Summary: This issue of expectation is central to the issue of faith.

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Faith - The Substance of Hope

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.1

When Jesus calls you; the question you must ask yourself is what do you expect Him to say?

This issue of expectation is central to the issue of faith.

If faith is the substance of things hoped for, then what do you hope for?

Where is that hope based - In God?

If it is, then how big is your God?

The problem for most of us is that we spend too much time in our minds. We have to figure everything out. We want to know the details.

For most of us, that’s not working very well. I have adopted Romans 12:1 & 2 as my life verse, because, I have a mind that desperately needs to be renewed. Most of us go with the first thing that comes to mind. That doesn’t always work so well.

Consider this exercise:

- The tree that grows from an acorn is called an …

- The vapor that rises from fire is called …

- The sound a frog makes is called a …

- The white of an egg is called the …

The simple fact is that when it comes to faith, most of us can’t trust our minds. We all have minds that desperately need to be renewed.

Paul tells us that because of his faith, Abraham is “the father of us all”. Paul tells us that Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations. Paul goes on to say that Abraham’s faith was based on “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” 2

The question on the table still is - how big is your God?

Consider what John Ortberg says:

“I strongly believe that the way we live is a consequence of the size of our God. The problem many of us have is that our God is too small. We are not convinced that we are absolutely safe in the hands of a fully competent, all-knowing, ever-present God.

When we wake up in the morning, what happens if we live with a small God?

We live in a constant state of fear and anxiety because everything depends on us. Our mood will be governed by our circumstances; we will live in a universe that leaves us deeply vulnerable.

When we have a chance to share our faith, we shrink back – what if we are rejected or cannot find the right words? It all depends on us.

We cannot be generous because our financial security depends on us.

When we need to give someone strong words of confrontation or challenge, we will be inclined to pull our punches. That is because of we don’t live in the security of a big God’s acceptance, we become slaves to what others think of us.

If we face the temptation to speak deceitful words to avoid pain, we will probably do it. We may try to get credit for something at work that does not belong to us because we don’t trust in a Big God who sees in secret and will one day give reward.

If somebody gets mad at us or disapproves, we will get all twisted up in knots – we will not have the security of knowing that a giant God is watching out for us.

When human beings shrink God, they offer prayer without faith, work without passion, service without joy, suffering without hope. It results in fear, retreat, loss of vision, and failure to persevere.”3

Let me ask it again - how big is your God?

The disciples were faced with this when Jesus came to them walking on the water.

Matthew 14:27 - But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”4

In his commentary on Matthew, Dale Bruner gives us some insight as to the power of Jesus’ response. Bruner tells us that a more accurate translation is “Take courage! I AM. Don’t be afraid.”5

I can only imagine the reactions of the men in the boat. I assume that most of them grew up good Jewish boys and learned the basics of the faith. I assume that they knew that when Moses asked God his name, the great voice from the burning bush answered, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 6

Can you imagine what went racing through their minds?

Did he say I AM?

It was I AM who spoke through the burning bush.

It was I AM who delivered the nation of Israel.

It was I AM who parted the red sea.

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