Summary: How God increases our faith.


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”?

b. Hudson Taylor, missionary to inland China, wrote this while under intense pressure and difficulty:

"It does not matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies - whether it comes between you and God, or whether it presses you nearer His heart."

Dr & Mrs Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1958), p.107.

c. Astronauts in space have to work to keep pressure and resistance on their muscles otherwise they waste away.

d. Diamonds don’t form without pressure.

e. Israel didn’t trust in God from easy circumstances.

f. Martha was pressed into a position where she had to reach deeper in faith.

g. The greatest spiritual victory is realized after the greatest spiritual battle.

2. When what we’ve got is expressed

a. Martha said, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” And, “I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

b. When the disciples had been fishing all night and had caught nothing they didn’t go back out to fish because of their faith in Jesus as a, they went back out because of their faith in Jesus himself.

c. The father whose son threw himself repeatedly into the fire asked the disciples to heal his son and they could not. When the boy was finally brought to Jesus, the father said, But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." MK 9:23 " `If you can’?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

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