Summary: Defines faith and reveals how to grow it.

“How to Build a Faith that Moves Mountains”

May 15, 2016

Hebrews 11:1-3, 6, 8-10, 13

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”

Faith is so awesome! Have you ever had anyone have faith in you? Have you ever had anyone believe in you when no one else did? I have. My Mom and my wife are two people that I can think of right of the top of my head who have had faith in me. When someone has faith in you – it does something to you. It changes you! It strengthens you! It gives you courage to try what you may have thought impossible at one time.

That is how God wants us to live! He want us to live faithful and courageous lives. By the way, it takes courage to live by faith. But God expects it of us. He demands it of us. Did you catch that truth spoken in our Scripture? “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

The question we each need to ask ourselves is, “Am I living a life that pleases God?” Before we answer that question – I want to talk about the power of faith. Do you know you can move mountains with faith? Listen to these Scriptures.

“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Luke 17:5-6

“When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:14-20

Did you hear Jesus telling us we could move a mountain with just a little faith? We could uproot a tree and toss it into the ocean! We could cast out demons and heal the sick and give sight to the blind. There is power in the name of Jesus! There is power in faith in Jesus. Mark 10:51-52

I don’t know about you – but I WANT it! I want more of it! But what is “IT”? What is faith? When Jesus came to the disciples and asked for more faith – listen to what He said.

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:7-10

Doesn’t that just bless your heart? That is Jesus’ answer to the disciples asking for more faith. Like so many of the deep spiritual truths – you have to seek before you find. You have to think and pray and ask for answers and knock until God reveals the truth to you personally. What Jesus is saying, I think, is when God reveals His will to you, you have to just obey. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it. It doesn’t matter if you ‘want’ to or not. It doesn’t matter if you think it is ‘fair’ or not, ‘right’ or not or whether you have important personal needs to take care of. He is the Master. We are unworthy servants. He speaks and we obey. End of story. We don’t obey out of love or because it is the right thing or any other reason. We obey because HE is God – and we are not! And when we do faith grows.

For years I have been teaching what I believe God revealed to me is the definition of faith. Wikipedia defines faith like this,

Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing; or the observance of an obligation from loyalty; or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement; or a belief not based on proof; or it may refer to a particular system of religious belief, such as in which faith is confidence based on some degree of warrant.

Here is what I know. Years ago I found most people in the church used Hebrews 11:1 as their definition of faith. Look at it again.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

That is not a definition. It describes what it does or what happens if we have faith. We are confident in what we hope for or expect. We have an assurance even if we are not able to see evidence of what we have put our faith in. That is a result or fruit of faith. It is a byproduct of faith – not a definition of faith.

Real Faith is preceded by a revelation from God. He reveals His will to us. With Abraham, who is our example of faith, we believe God. We trust God. Then we obey God when He tells us to do something or NOT do something. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son to Him. That didn’t make sense intellectually or spiritually and certainly not emotionally. But Abraham believed God, trusted in Him, and obeyed Him. He took his son up the mountain, bound him to the altar, raised his knife to kill his son – then the angel stopped Him.

What was Abraham THINKING?! Well, we know what he was thinking. In the faith chapter it says,

“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.” Hebrews 11:17-19

Do you see the faith Abraham had? He believed God so much; he trusted God so much – he believed that if he obeyed God -

God would raise his son back to life again.

Now do you understand why Abraham is the example of faith in the Bible? If you read about Abraham you will see a flawed man. He had faults and failings. But he also had great faith – and God was able to build a nation from that old man and his old wife. God was able to do the impossible because of faith.

Do you know what hinders the hand of God? A lack of faith. One day Jesus went to His hometown where everyone knew Him. Listen to this sad statement.

“He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”

Mark 6:5-6

I wonder if Jesus is amazed at our lack of faith sometimes. I asked the question earlier, “Am I living a life that pleases God?” I wonder what the answer is. I am afraid for most of us Jesus is amazed at our lack of faith. You probably experienced an emotional denial of that. You would said, maybe quite forcibly, that you believe Jesus! You trust Jesus! You are living in obedience.

Really? Let’s take a little test. Tests are good. The Bible says,

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…” 2 Corinthians 13:5

There are a couple of quick tests we can take. First, prayer. Do you believe that prayer moves the hand of God and changes things? Then how is your prayer life? Do pray fervently? Do you pray daily? Do you have a powerful prayer life? I think the evidence shows we need more faith in our prayer life.

Here is another big one.

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.” Malachi 3:8-11

Do you believe God? Do you believe He will meet all your needs? If so – do you give Him the FIRST ten percent of your income? If not – why not?

I will answer the question for you. You lack faith in God. And without faith it is impossible to please God. Do you understand that without faith it is impossible to please God? God has given us this one thing (tithing) that conflicts with our desires and our wants and our beliefs so that we have opportunity every week to express our faith – or give evidence of a lack of faith.

I think it is when the bills are high and the money is low – and we still put God first in our finances – that He is most pleased with us.

Do you think we will hear “Well, Done! Good and Faithful servant!” If we lack faith in so simple of a thing?

Faith is characterized by trusting, believing and obeying. Without faith it is impossible to believe God. With faith- we can move mountains, cast a tree in the ocean, heal the sick, pay our bills – but most importantly – we please God. I don’t know about you – but I don’t want Jesus to be amazed at my ‘lack’ of faith – but blessed by it. I need to tell you that you can only be a real man or women of faith with the right attitude. What is that attitude? Listen.

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16

“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

Revelation 12:11

Do you see the attitude we must have is that this earth is not our home. We are just passing through. We must believe that we are foreigners and strangers on earth. It is only when we truly believe this that we can have the proper mind set for a powerful faith. With an attitude like this obedience is so much easier. We are banking on heaven. We are looking for that heavenly country. THAT is the important thing. Live your life to please the Heavenly Father. Live your life for the future glory. Realize that this is not our home. Some people – like Esau – sell their future for the pleasures of today. Don’t do it. Believe that Heaven is your home. That is how you can live by faith.