From Faith to Faith
Today is our third and last sermon on faith in our 3 on 3 series. For the last two weeks we have talked about What Faith Is and what happens to our Faith When the Worst Happens. As I was trying to put this series together I found it a bit difficult. You see faith is one of those difficult topics. I mean when I say faith we usually all shake our heads in that general understanding type of way.
But the discussion of faith is so deep, often times I wonder if we ever get past the surface. I imagine that often we are just fine snorkeling instead of diving. You know the difference don’t you? I’m a snorkeler, I put the mask and the fins on, I put the snorkel in my mouth and set out going across the top of the water. And you can see some pretty remarkable things and colors when you snorkel.
But my brother in law is a diver, and where I am confined to the top of the water he get’s to go deep into the water. While I get to see some pretty remarkable things, they pale in comparison to the extraordinary things he has seen, touched, and experienced.
I feel sometimes in the discussion of faith, we are content to have faith or snorkel around the surface, when God has called us to to dive deep and live a life of faith. I mean I believe that everyone of us here this morning has faith, but how many of us are living lives of faith?
Today I want to spend our time together looking at what the Bible has to say about what we need to do to have a deep victorious faith. Paul writes in Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith."
Now all of us know something of the value of faith, and we know what the Bible says about it. As a life time member of the church we have all gotten our little gold stars on our chart for memorizing verses about the importance of faith. The problem has never been the value of faith. It is the acquisition of faith that we struggle with. Every Christian that I have ever known has longed to have a deeper faith but didn’t know how to get it? And thus the struggle.
Have you ever wanted to live by faith, like those we read about in Hebrews 11? Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish I had more faith because I know that I would be a better person. Or if my faith was only stronger then I wouldn’t struggle so much.”
I want to start today by telling you that you are not alone. Every Christian wants to have more, or stronger faith and I believe in our Text today Paul tells us how to open the door to a greater faith. “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith”
The first faith speaks of that which is primary. The faith that caused you to act. To call out to God and allow Him to take control of your life when you submitted to Him in the watery grave of baptism.
The second faith is that power-giving faith. The faith that causes us to action. The faith that we read about in Hebrews 11.
The first faith saves us; the second one identifies us.
The first faith is all about assurance; the second tells us what we can become.
The first faith deals with redemption; the second deals with risk.
The first faith is a gift; the second is all about growth.
Today I want us to look at at 5 things that we have got to do to get from faith to faith. You know it’s one thing to sit on the couch with a bag of chips and think man I have got to start exercising. It is a lot harder to close that bag and get up and do something about it.
When the boys were a bit younger we would get a piece of paper and make a dot to dot puzzle for them. We told them if they would follow the dots then they would learn how to write their names. You know it took a bit of faith for them to try it. First they had to believe that all of these dots really meant something.
Second they had to believe that it would be revealed, even though they had no idea what it was. They had to believe that these dots would make their name. Even though they could not see it, they had to believe that it was there.
Finally they had to trust that I designed a picture that would be revealed if they would just continue to follow the order of the dots. It’s like that with our faith. We don’t always see where God is leading us, sometimes we only have part of the picture. But faith is when we continue to trust God’s heart even when we cannot see the whole picture.
So today I am asking you get up off the couch, put the chips away and get ready to follow the dots that God has laid out for us to trace. And I know that if we will follow the dots we will be able to see how God wants us to get from Faith to Faith.
First, we must Believe that your faith can grow!
You know every dream, every invention, every great discovery, and every great accomplishment all begins with the belief that it can be done. And not only great accomplishments but learning to swim, learning how to ride a bike, learning how to skate. They all started with the belief that we could do it.
The same is true with our faith. There are so many of us in the church that feel stuck. We struggle and fight with our faith. We have given in to the same temptations over and over. We see no growth in our lives so we get frustrated and throw our hands up. Why even try. I believe that everyone in this room that has ever felt this way, all felt this way for the same reason. We don’t believe that we will ever get better.
In Matthew 14:25-33 we see the wonderful story of Peter walking on the water with Christ. All to often we tend to look at this story and talk about Peter’s failure, and forget that there were two men walking on that water. Jesus and Peter. Sure Peter didn’t walk for long but he did walk. Maybe 4 steps maybe 40 steps but the fact is that he did walk. It was his belief that got him out of the boat to begin with and only our belief will move us from faith to faith.
A second way to have a powerful faith is to Associate with others who have great faith.
There is a great principal found in 1 Corinthians 15:33 where Paul says, Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals." In Alabama we would say if you run with the goats you will smell like the goats. But it works both ways. Romans 1:12: “That I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” and in I Thessalonians 3:2: “…and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith.”
Too often good circumstances and bad friends equal problems. In the same way, bad circumstances and good friends equal victory! It has taken me quite a while to figure this out.
A Bible professor at Faulkner once told me, “People we associate with are like elevator buttons, they can take you up or down!” At the ripe old age of 18 I thought that was funny but not realistic. Now I realize that my faith has been enlarged to a great extent by the example of others, observing how they handled adversity and the challenges that life brings. Faith rubs off.
Several years ago my mom was undergoing surgery for breast cancer. Early on the day of the surgery Trista, the boys and I left the house so that we could see mom before she went in. I wanted to let her know that I was there and reassure her that I had been in prayer. But more than anything else I wanted to see her because I was scared. Scared of what they would find, scared that she would not make it. Scared that she wouldn’t see my boys grow up and get married. Just scared.
We met at the cancer center, and they did prep work, and my brother showed up and then my grandmothers and my aunts and uncles and we all just sat there trying to act brave for my dad but every one of us scared.
About 30 minutes before they took mom back for surgery people from Mayfair began to show up. One at first then two then 10 then 35. The waiting room was full of cancer survivors, men and women who had walked this road and loved my family. People who just wanted to come and pray with us and let us know that they were praying in faith that everything was going to come out OK.
An amazing thing happened in that waiting room. All of the fear dissipated. It was gone. We had the witness that others had walked this road before us and lived. That God had been gracious before and we knew that He would be gracious once again. We knew that we were not in this struggle alone, but we were surrounded by men and women who loved God and his children. The faith that sustained us that day was not our faith but the faith of those we associated with.
Thirdly, we can have great faith when we Read and embrace God’s Word.
It is told that the great preacher D.L. Moody said, “I prayed for faith and thought that some day it would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith didn’t seem to come. One day I read in Romans that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” I had up to this time, closed my Bible and prayed for faith. Now I opened my Bible and began to study and faith has been growing ever since.”
Nothing worth having happens by accident. The same is true for faith, it will only come when we are willing to spend time with the one who sustains and strengthens our faith.
There was a time when our fellowship was known as people of the book. Other folks knew that we knew the Word of God, that we were immersed in that Word. I think it’s past time that we got back into the word. Faith grows through a knowledge of the Word.
Next, we move from faith to faith when we Practice prayer and fasting
Now, I can hear some of you thinking, “What? Did he just say what I think he just said?” And let me assure you that not only did I say it, I even put it on the screens behind me.
Now, I understand that we don’t talk a lot about fasting from this pulpit. It’s kind of like the Holy Spirit we don’t know an awful lot about it so we just move on to other areas of Christianity. But I believe that this is just as important.
Remember the man in Matthew 17 who came to the disciples and asked them for help for his demon possessed boy? He asked the disciples to pray for him. They prayed and nothing happened. Then Jesus prayed and something did happen, a miracle! The disciples got discouraged and said, “Lord, why is it when we prayed for him that nothing happened?” And the Lord answered, “It was because of you little faith.” Then He talked to them about faith being the size of a mustard seed and how much growth potential it had.
Referring to the boy who was possessed, Jesus said, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” In other words, there are some problems, which are so immense that we must be totally immersed in prayer and fasting, believing God to give that for which we pray. Great problems demand great faith!
I believe that fasting is a lost art. But it must be important since Jesus teaches about it on 5 different occasions and even participated in it. Fasting is a time where I put my wants and needs to the side so that I can put God first. You can spend as much time in prayer and fasting as you need, but it must be a time where you are putting your wants and needs behind God.
When you fast for one meal, or a day, or even a week you dedicate that time that you would use to nourish your body by spending time with God in prayer, study of the scripture, and meditation.
You can fast food or anything that you put ahead of God. You can fast from TV, the computer, family, hobbies. We all need to take an inventory of how we spend our time and make sure that GOd comes first. If He’s not then we need to do a little fasting to make sure that God get’s our time and attention.
Finally, we must Remember past victories.
So often we get consumed with what is going on in the now that we forget about how faithful God has been in the past. And I don’t mean the Biblical past but your past. That’s why we have put together these God Moment Books and made them available for you to read and pass out. We wanted to have a physical reminder, stories that remind us how faithful God has been in our lives. It is an idea that we got from Joshua 4:2-7
"Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, 'Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.'" Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, "Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, 'What do those stones mean to you?' then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever."
God encouraged the Children of Israel to build a reminder of how faithful He had been to them.
In 1 Samuel 17 David found that remembering his past successes with God increased his faith for greater challenge. He told King Saul that the giant Goliath was no problem based on his victories over a lion and a bear.
I challenge you to take some time to write down all the answers to prayer you have experienced personally, all the victories over sin, temptation, trials, sickness, whatever and then say to yourself, “God and I did it before; we can do it again!”
Questions To Consider
As we close this discussion on faith, reflect back and answer these questions:
What is the difference between faith and believing?
How did you come into your faith?
What sustains your faith?
How have you grown in your faith?
Jeremy mentioned five areas this morning that will allow us to move from a faith that saves us to a faith that identifies us. What are your feelings on these five areas:
Why is it important that we believe that our faith can grow?
What do our personal associations have to do with our faith level?
How can reading the Bible increase our faith?
Then why do believers struggle with this spiritual discipline?
What is your understanding of prayer and fasting in the conversation of faith?
How will remembering God’s faithfulness in the past help us with our faithfulness in the future?