Summary: Sermon examines the exercise of faith using examples of Elijah and the widow, and others such as Moses' choice to leave Egypt.
I want to begin this morning in Romans 10:17 because there are two words in that verse that the Lord spoke to me this week concerning this church, concerning you and me and our future. Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” The KJV says “So then faith cometh…” The two words are “faith cometh.” I’m not completely sure what God is saying with those two words, but I think He intends to bring us into a level of believing beyond where we have been. “Faith cometh….”
When the Holy Spirit comes, faith comes with Him. The Bible says that Stephen was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. Acts 11 says the same thing about Barnabas. When God gives a group of people faith to do something, how many know, it’s going to get done. God gave to Israel faith to march around Jericho one time every day for six days and seven times on the seventh day. He gave them faith to shout at the end of their 14 trips around the city and when they shouted the walls fell down! Faith can move mountains. Faith can tear down walls and barriers. “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.”
Faith is both a gift of God and a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Faith gives us access to the provisions of God for His children. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Faith is evidence according to Hebrews 11:1. Somehow, I know. I don’t know exactly how I know, but I know. I know things I can’t know through my five senses—things I can’t see with my natural eyes. The eyes of my understanding are enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
Why should I be restricted to knowledge that comes only through my natural senses when God has made me spirit, soul, and body? I am designed by my Maker to receive spiritual revelation as well as natural reasoning. Heb. 11:3 says “By faith we understand….” There are things we understand simply because God has given us the faith to receive the revelation from Him.
How do you know that you’re saved?
His Spirit bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God. No amount of human reasoning could ever substitute for that. “By grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourself it is a gift from God”—God gave you the faith to receive eternal life. You believed in your heart and acted upon that faith by confessing with your mouth Jesus as your Savior and Lord.
How do you operate in faith? How do you receive from God? I’ll answer that question with a question. How did you receive Christ as your savior? You heard the promise—you embraced the promise as true—and you reached out and received the gift. Rom 10:8-11 “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Notice the physical act associated with salvation: “…if you confess with your mouth….” Faith is something that proceeds from the heart by the grace of God; but it only comes to full fruition through a physical act of the body. That physical act may involve a vocal acknowledgement of what God is doing, it may include a song of praise, it may involve taking a perceived risk that is based on our confidence in God’s faithfulness.
Come with me to 1 Kings 17 and I want to show you an example of faith. In this story you will see Elijah operating in faith and you will see a widow woman operating in faith. King Ahab and Jezebel are ruling in Israel and they have led the whole nation into idolatry. Elijah has challenged them by declaring a draught in the land. During the first part of that draught he is living out in the country side at the Brook Cherith which flows into the Jordan River. He is being supernaturally fed by ravens. But because of the draught the brook dried up and he runs out of food and water. That’s where our text begins in 1 Kings 17:8-16 (read).
So Elijah arrives at the gate of the city and here is this woman gathering a few sticks to make a fire. She is in a desperate situation, greatly in need of help. Then a stranger shows up and asks for her help. “Please bring me a little cup of water.” Well that doesn’t sound too unreasonable since Elijah has just arrived in the city and is probably very thirsty. But the man’s request doesn’t stop there. Just as she is going to get him a drink of water, he adds, and by the way bring me a piece of bread while you’re at it. That’s when she lost it. Listen to her reply in verse 12, Mister, I don’t have bread for you. I don’t even have bread for myself or my son. All I’ve got (I mean the only thing I have) is one handful of flour in a bin and a little oil in a jar. Elijah’s reply is almost humorous to me, “Ok says Elijah, just bring me that.” I want to scream out to the man, “Look this is all she has, one handful of flour and a little oil; and you’re going to take that from her. The woman is starving.”