You Were Made For Faith…
-Introduction: The Great Blondin
(please click HERE to watch video titled “Faith On A Wire”)
-Message Purpose: To help us understand what faith is, the characteristics of true faith, and how to strengthen our faith.
-Big Idea: When Jesus returns to earth, He will be looking for one thing: true faith in Him.
-Main Scripture: Luke 18:1-8 (please click HERE for passage)
Question: What is the definition of faith? What does the word mean?
-Greek word “pistis” is used 242 times in the New Testament and is translated at different times as the English words:
faith from first to last,
1. “Confidence or trust in—and loyalty to—a person or thing—” (www.dictionary.com).
2. “The duty of fulfilling one’s trust” (living it out—making it seen)(Online Etymology Dictionary).
3. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV): “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Two Sides to the Coin of True Faith:
Side 1: So faith in God is trusting that He exists, trusting He is who He says He is, and trusting that He will do what He says He will do (an understanding, belief, and agreement with God).
Side 2: Living our lives—thoughts, words, actions, and plans—based on that trust in God (the living out of that understanding, belief, and agreement with God).
Illustration: 1. Olympic Diver Jumping into a Pool
a. must have faith that the water exists, is capable of holding her weight & will cushion her fall.
b. then must make the decision to actually jump in!
c. the diver doesn’t have to jump in—she just can’t win the medal if she doesn’t.
So let’s all make the decision to jump into Jesus—He’s there, He can support our weight, and He will cushion our fall!
Let’s look at the Bible and try to find out more about faith.
I. True Faith Is Only As Good As Its Object; We Must Place Our Faith in the Right Person In Order to Receive the Full Benefits of Our Faith (Luke 18:2-3).
1. The widow goes to the person with authority—the judge (no one else). We are to do the same.
1. Replacing Blondin: Would you trust your best friend–instead of Blondin–to walk you across Niagara Falls?
2. Who Needs Doctors?: Would you trust your best friend–instead of a world famous physician–to prescribe you medicine?
1. Some of you have made a specific decision in the past to have faith in Jesus, to trust in Him to pay off your spiritual debt to God, to trust in Him to bring you to heaven someday, and to trust in Him to grow you into the amazing person He made you to be.
Awesome! Keep making that decision to trust in Jesus for all of those things everyday! Show your faith in Jesus by what you do—that’s a life long process!
2. Some of you are still trying to figure out exactly who this Jesus is.
Awesome! Keep trying to know Jesus better, to understand who He is and what He offers you. You are on the beginning of an amazing journey—God promises in fact that if you try and know who He is as hard as you can, you will know Him, you WILL find Him (Jeremiah 29:13 Message: “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”). That’s a fantastic promise, for God created us humans to know Him even before He made us to serve Him!
II. True Faith is Persistent: True Faith Lasts to the End and Finishes the Race (Luke 18:4-7).
1. The widow keeps asking for what she needs—she never gives up. We are to do the same.
1. The Great Blondin—Staying in the wheelbarrow (no bailing out!).
2. My Dad and the Cubs—No fair-weather fans at Wrigley.
a. He is 91 years old and has never stopped rooting for the Cubs!
b. I’m not sure which is true: He has either taught me the art of true faith in the Cubs or he has infected me with the
disease of true faith in the Cubs :); But I’ll never stop being a Cubs fan either!
1. Faith in Jesus is hard—you will go through times of doubt, fear, and uncertainty. But that is part of the growing process, just as pain in joints is part of growing taller. Don’t give up, either trusting in Jesus or trying to know who He really is! As far as I have learned from the Bible, Jesus is not going to be looking for perfect faith in Him, but rather striving, trying, getting-up-after-you-fall-down faith in Him.
When I grew eight inches the summer before my freshman year of high school, I wanted the growing to stop—I had had enough of it. But I’m glad I continued to grow—I like being tall, and my height is extremely helpful around the house to my wife who is 5’1”!
Just as the widow was rewarded for the persistence of her faith in the judge, so too will we be rewarded for the persistence of our faith in the Savior, Jesus!
But we’re not done yet here, my friends. We have only discussed what faith in Jesus is; we have not discussed how to get it, or how to strengthen your faith in Jesus. You should all be asking the question “how” whenever you learn anything. For if you aren’t taught how, you are only taught an incomplete lesson. Not necessarily a bad lesson, but an incomplete one. If I inform you of an amazing restaurant but don’t tell you where it is or how to get there, the information I provided you with about the restaurant isn’t very helpful. SImilarly, if I talk to you about the supreme importance of strong faith in Jesus but don’t tell you how to help strengthen your faith in Him, then this talk was nearly a waste of your time.
So let’s close with that—how do we get and how do we strengthen our faith in Jesus?:
1. Pray. Seriously, just ask God to strengthen your faith (Luke 17:5—“increase our faith!”). That’s the best way to start.
2. Read Scripture—we trust in Jesus more when we see examples of His power, love, and faithfulness in the past. But this reading of the Bible isn’t magic–it’s actually quite practical, like when you read that a doctor has performed a surgery over 10,000 times without a complication or fatality, you can easily put great faith in such a doctor. Jesus wants to be the Great Physician of your soul if you will let Him, healing you and literally bringing you back to real life so you can become who He made you to be. 🙂
3. Read biographies of other people who have had faith in Jesus and how they overcame struggles, doubt, hardship, pain, etc.
4. Journal! Write down at the end of each day how God has blessed you or what He has taught you. Your faith in Him will be strengthened as you look back over these writings in the future!
5. Obey! It is often hard to do what Jesus wants us to do (e.g. forgiving others, honoring our parents, saying no to unhealthy activities and yes to healthy activities, resisting peer pressure, etc.). Faith is a muscle, and the only way to really strengthen it is to follow Jesus by getting out of the boat and walking on the water!
6. Check your fears, and then lean into them! Ask a close friend to help you see what stresses you out, what freaks you out, what scares you on a regular basis, those good deeds you know Jesus wants you to do but you’re too scared to do right now for a variety of reasons—and then lean into those fears by confronting them head on!
Fear–not doubt–is the antithesis of faith, and yet we all are afraid of something, so don’t be discouraged! But it is our response to our fears that either strengthens or weakens our faith.
Hebrews 10:38-39 NIV: “‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he/she shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”
2 Timothy 1:7 NIV: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (fear), but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.”
So what are your fears?
1. Maybe you are scared to speak in front of people (#1 fear in America, even before death!). Lean into that fear and give a two minute talk in a group at school or church on a topic that you like. Sign up for toastmasters, an organization that teaches people how to speak in public.
2. Maybe your scared to talk to people you don’t know. Then before you leave school or church next time, just do it! Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know!
3. Maybe you’re scared or nervous about carrying your Bible around at school—find a friend and ask him or her to carry theirs around as well. Then, sometime during the day, read the Gospel of John for five minutes together and ask each other something you learned from it.
Check your fears, lean into those fears, and exert control over them. Jesus will help you do this, for the less fear there is in our hearts and minds, the more room there is for faith in Him!
My friends, the Bible teaches us that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” But what this verse implies is that we are capable of faith in Him! So please be encouraged—you were made for faith in Jesus! Though it is hard and difficult, you were made to have it and were made to show it!
Just as an eagle was made to soar, just as a dolphin was made to swim, just as a cheetah was made to sprint, just as the Cubs were made to lose (:), so you were made for faith in Jesus.
You can do it, and like Home Depot, Jesus can help! 🙂