Summary: How God increases our faith.

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Luke 17:5

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Pastor Brian Matherlee


A small boy riding a bus home from Sunday school was very proud of the card he had received, which had a picture and a caption that read: “Have Faith in God.” Then to his dismay the card slipped from his hand and fluttered out the window. “Stop the bus!” he cried. “I’ve lost my ‘faith in God!’”

The driver pulled the bus to a stop, and as the lad climbed out and went to retrieve his card, one of the adult riders smiled and made a comment about the innocence of youth. A more perceptive adult observed, “All of us would be better off if we were that concerned about our faith."

Last week we spoke about childlike faith. Faith is “simple trust and active obedience.” I think we touched on a critical subject for many. We know that too many times there is disconnect between what God desires from us and what we see going on in our day to day living.

On one occasion Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone. The popular standard taught by religious leaders of the day told the faithful they should forgive someone 7 times. But Jesus told Peter and the other disciples that they should forgive 7 times 70! The answer Jesus gave was so overwhelming they asked—no, I think they begged Him, “Increase our faith!”

In a 1991 poll, George Gallup, Jr., reported seven needs of the average American:

1. The need for shelter and food,

2. The need to believe life is meaningful and has a purpose,

3. The need for a sense of community and deeper relationships,

4. The need to be appreciated and respected,

5. The need to be listened to and be heard,

6. The need to feel one is growing in faith,

7. The need for practical help in developing a mature faith.

We are like the disciples. We come to understand the commands of Jesus and we realize, “Lord, I cannot do this!” But we mistakenly think, just like the disciples, that we need more faith.

The mustard seed is mentioned only 5 times in the Bible, every time by Jesus. He uses the mustard seed to illustrate two truths. In Matthew 13:31, Mark 4:31 and Luke 13:19 Jesus uses the mustard seed to illustrate what the kingdom of heaven is like. In Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6 Jesus teaches truths about Christian faith.

Read Luke 17:5-6

1. We don’t need a great amount of faith

2. We don’t necessarily need more faith

3. We do need to express what faith we have

I do believe though that God does increase our faith. How?

There is a story in the Bible that will help us see.

Tell story of Lazarus in John 11.

Key points:

• Lazarus, a man dearly loved by Jesus, was sick and word was sent to Jesus of his condition

• Jesus delayed going to Lazarus 2 more days

• Jesus arrives and Lazarus is dead-4days in fact

• Read 11:21-27

Faith increases:

1. When it is put under pressure

a. Max Lucado says that “The grave unearths our view of God” And he’s right. How often have we heard “God, if you existed my child wouldn’t have died, if you’d have answered my prayers my life wouldn’t be empty, if you cared my mother wouldn’t have developed cancer”?

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