TV Transcripts

“Growing in Faith” Part One
Broadcast #1626
December 3, 2023

Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1626 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

Phil: Well, I had some thoughts earlier in the week as my Bible reading these days is in the New Testament, in the Gospels in particular. And I found it interesting on Wednesday night some of the comments that were made about faith, ‘cause they were just about exactly what I’d been thinking about.

And I just sort of listened, but, you know, several occasions, Jesus was going around with His disciples, His followers. These were people who obviously believed in Him. They believed in him enough to leave everything behind and, and follow Him, didn’t they? And they were learning from Him, but there were several particular situations when they would get in an unexpected, to them, situation and they would react very differently from Jesus. And Jesus would look at him and say, Where is your faith? Or you know, something, you know, Ye of little faith. In several particular instances He said that.

And you know, as I was reading that, I’m so glad that Jesus didn’t say, Ye of no faith, but it reminded me of the simple fact that God wants us to grow in our faith, that we don’t necessarily, just because we have faith up to a certain point, God wants us to grow in that and to get to the point where we can believe him in a variety of situations that we haven’t maybe faced before.

I don’t have to remind you of something we pointed out so often of where the world is headed. And we see a world that is drinking in the lies that are flowing outta the mouth of the dragon, Satan. And it’s because they don’t want to let their lives go and surrender and believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ, and so when He takes His hand off, there’s nothing to stop the devil from coming in and totally deceiving people. So, they think they’re in charge, they think they’re doing what they’re supposed to do and they’re actually heading for destruction.

And as that we see society and our culture being more and more taken over by that, we’re gonna need the Lord more than we’ve been used to. And I guarantee you that I’m not the only one facing difficulties and situations that we didn’t plan on, that we need the Lord, and we need to have a faith that goes beyond, well, I believe this and I believe that, and so we come to church and assert those beliefs. But if faith doesn’t make a difference in our lives, what difference, what good is it to say, I believe this?

You know, I’ve used the illustration in the past in different contexts of somebody who finds themself on an island that is headed for destruction and they understand it and they believe it. And there’s one bridge that leads off of that island to a place of safety. Now, what good is it to stand there and point to that bridge and say, I believe in that bridge, and just keep standing there and not actually cross the bridge?

You know, James wrote quite a bit on the subject of faith without works is dead. Now, we’re not saved by our works, but we’re not saved by just a mental assent to certain ideas, are we? God saves people who not only put their faith in Him, but who step out and actually execute that faith in our lives. And I believe, again, I’m not the only one where God is calling us to believe Him in situations that are uncomfortable that we didn’t ask for.

But I’ll tell you, we serve a God Who literally brings us the way that He does so that we can grow in our faith. And I want to, I need that. God has to put me in the deep end of the pool sometimes and say, Now what are you gonna do? And I realize I have no answer. I have no strength. I can’t rely upon me.

But think about what God has called us to. Has he called us to a life of, you know, well, I’ve given you natural abilities, I’ve given you a mind to figure things out, I’ve given you this, I’ve given you that, so go live your life and just be a good person? There’s more to it than that. We are living in a world that is absolutely devoted to self and lives in rebellion against God. And God has called us to a supernatural kingdom. And I don’t have what it takes to live in that.

And the easiest thing in the world is simply for us to go through our daily lives and figure, I can handle this, I can handle that, and just think of things in a natural sense. Folks, we don’t just live in a visible natural world, do we? And we need to remember that. We need to realize that we live in a, we don’t wrestle, as we said so often, against flesh and blood.

Now, was Paul just saying that as a doctrinal issue, or was he saying that as a real practical issue? Obviously, he was, he meant for us to have this as part of our worldview where we realize the world that I live in is not simply composed of what I see and circumstances that I have learned how to handle this and how to handle that, and I’m good, and I just, thank you, Lord, for all Your blessings.

My God, how easy is it in a place like America, what America has been to just go to sleep and live in a realm of natural of ability and habit. And if God hasn’t shaken up your world, He will if you’re His. I need my world shaken up. I need Him to take me further than I have been. I need Him to do what Jesus was doing with His disciples. He was allowing them to be in situations where suddenly, their natural resources weren’t getting it. They didn’t have what they needed, did they?

You know, one of those was the time when he said, Let’s go to the other side. You compare the different accounts of that and you can really put the story together. Jesus had finished committing, committing, not the word, performing miracles. You don’t commit miracles. But anyway, He had just finished teaching the crowds. They had seen miracles, obviously, there was a faith in them to follow Him, wasn’t there?

And He had said, We’re going to the other side. He didn’t say, Now we’re gonna go out in the middle of the lake and have a storm and drown. And so, don’t we need, when the Lord says something, to go by what He says? Yeah, and the Lord will put us in situations where that’s the conflict that we see, is what God says is one thing and what the circumstances are is another.

And so there they were and He had said, Let’s go to the other side. So, they get out in the middle and a storm comes up. Now, was that storm just an accident? Do you not know that the devil has power to create weather? Didn’t He do that in Job’s case? Yeah, there was a whirlwind. When the Lord turned the devil loose to try Job, one of the things that happened was a whirlwind came up. There were literal forces of nature that he is able to stir up.

I remember, I have heard over my lifetime more than one account of something of nature coming up that seems to attack some of God’s people in some way. And I’ve heard of more than one instance where someone actually literally commanded that storm to stop or that rain to stop or something, and it did.

Now, I don’t think that means every time it rains, we can go out and say, Stop it. You know, it’s not something just for human, God doesn’t give us faith just to use for our benefit and apart from His will. But I’ll tell you, there are circumstances where we need to be able to recognize the source of what’s happening and look to the Lord and be able to see beyond, not just to see beyond the circumstances, see the devil, but to see beyond the devil and see the Lord and to realize that He has allowed something to happen for a reason and it’s for our good, and it’s to teach us and to bring us.

I guarantee the disciples who came through this circumstance had a deeper view of Him and a deeper view of faith than they did before they went through it, didn’t they? Suppose they just had a calm, nice trip across and everything had been great, but see, the devil knew where Jesus was headed. He had a sense that something’s going on here, I better stop it. And he did what he could, he raised that storm and Jesus was just asleep. You know the story and you know how the disciples were scared to death and woke Him up. So, Oh, ye of little faith, why are you afraid?

I wonder if the Lord would say that to us this morning about this or about that and the circumstances you’re worried about and you’re concerned about, and where our reaction is to be afraid and to focus all of our attention not on the Lord and His purposes and trusting Him and looking to Him for the wisdom that we need, but rather, oh God, what if this happens? What about that? What about that? You know, a thousand and one little big things in our minds that the devil would use through circumstances, but I pray that God will bring us to everything that is of His choosing to help us to learn how to grow in faith.

And of course there are other instances, but you get the picture here. Jesus was pointing out the fact that, yeah, you’ve got faith, but right now it’s not much. And God was gonna bring them to a place where these same men who didn’t have faith later on in their lives laid down their lives for the faith, didn’t they?

I believe God is going to bring His people to a place where we can stand in an hour like this and we will not just look at circumstances and be dismayed by them or think, I can fix that if I just do this and I do that, but instead look to the Lord and say, Lord, You have allowed this storm and I am trusting in You, and I know that Your purpose is the one that’s gonna prevail. Lord, if it’s for me to lay down my life with a testimony of praise to You on my lips, then my life is Yours, because I know what lies beyond. I know that this is not the end. This is just a way station we’re passing through.

Oh, I’ll tell you, only God can give that ability. I’m just trusting the Lord to guide the thoughts here this morning, because once again, I don’t have this sermonized, but I’m hoping you’re glad that it isn’t, because we don’t need, again, we never need my sermon, we always need His message. And I think it’s probably profitable to look for a moment at faith itself and just review the things that we know.

What is faith really? You know, you look at Hebrews 11:1 and you get God’s simple definition of what faith is. And I like this particular translation here. “Now, faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” It’s something that absolutely is on the inside of a person that gives them a supernatural ability to know things that cannot be known by the natural man.

You remember what Paul said? The natural man does not know the things of God, does he? The smartest man cannot figure out God’s plan, cannot reason it all out. It has to be God revealing something to the heart and imparting to you and to me an ability to know things that cannot be known apart from Him, to know that they’re real.

You know, a lot of people think faith is just something that I just make up my mind. I’m just gonna believe it. Oh boy, I’m gonna believe it. And it’s just like a blind assertion of faith and something that just makes me feel better, gives meaning to life, or something on that, but it’s entirely on a natural level.

My God, I was not born with faith. Was anybody here was born into Adam’s family with faith? I wasn’t either, but I’ll tell you, faith is the gift of God, isn’t it? And we read that, “By grace, you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” I’ll tell you, God has a way of imparting to a heart a power to believe in Him. And the exercise of that faith is the most critical thing in the world.

We sang the song, It’s worth everything to be born again. Folks, this world is full of people who simply don’t know what I’m talking about this morning. Their entire world is focused on their flesh and pleasing themselves in this world and trying to save the planet and the thousand and one things that we’ve talked about so many times. But God has called a people, and is calling a people out of this present world, and He does it by revealing His word to the heart. And every time He finds a willing heart, there’s something that happens.

Folks, there is a point in time when God wants people to come to a place where they let go and let God have their lives. I mean, didn’t Jesus say to Nicodemus, Unless you’re born again, you can’t see the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is not a bunch of buildings or an earthly organization. It’s a reality. It is as real as the kingdom of darkness is real, but it’s far above that. Praise God!

There is a real kingdom right now that we can look past everything that’s happening in this world and know that God is on His throne. Jesus has authority over everything that happens on this planet and we have been called to His kingdom for such a time as this. May God help us.

But if there’s someone who’s listening to this and you’re not sure, I just pray, I just pray that God will make this real, but when He does, that you’ll open your heart and you realize what He has given you through Jesus Christ. You realize what He did to take someone who is absolutely helpless to do anything for themselves, helpless to come back into a relationship with God, and the very one who spoke the stars into existence came down and gave His life so that you and I could be free.

All of the guilt, you know, before somebody’s gonna come to the new birth, they gotta know they need it. And that’s the starting point for God to convict a heart of their sinfulness, their unworthiness of the kingdom of God. I can’t possibly attain to that. I’m not worthy of it. I have no way to lay hold of that. I have no way to get rid of the guilt that has separated me from a holy God.

But Jesus came down and assumed your guilt. He says though, he said to His Father, Charge me. I will go to the cross that they deserve. I, the creator of the universe, will go to a wooden cross in the humiliation and pain and bear your sins. And I will be placed in a grave. It signifies the end of a life, but I’m not gonna stay in that grave. Praise God!

There’s a life beyond what this world knows about. There’s a life, the very life of God that He longs to share with people who will open their hearts to Him. He has the power to change a heart and change a life. He has the power, not just to wipe away the guilt of sins, but to give you a new heart and a new life. Praise God!

Oh, the key to it all is in the response of the sinner. Do we, clinging to our sins, and duck and dodge, and try to bargain with God? Or we just say, Lord, I surrender. Come into my heart, my Lord, my life. I lay it all at Your feet and give myself to You. That’s salvation, because when He comes in, that’s the only power you and I will ever have.

And then of course we learn to live. And you know the Scripture says that the just shall live by what? By faith. This principle of trusting God with our lives and looking to Him has to become the guiding principle of our lives.

But I think I started to say, started to point out a while ago that faith, according to James, is not just something where we say we believe this and that’s good enough. Faith has to take action, and God is going to put us, every one of us in situations where the circumstances will dictate this and suggest that this is the case and that’s it, and you gotta deal with it. And God will be over here saying, No, I am God and I’m in charge, And you need to look to me. I have the wisdom, I have the strength, I have all that you need. And the question is, which are we gonna go by? Are we going to sit there and listen?

You know, we sing the song, listen to the devil. We sing the song about, what is it? Victory? We will cry victory when the circumstances say, no. I wonder how many are in places right now where the circumstances are just telling you one thing and this is how it’s gonna be, and it’s bad and so, and on and on and on. But I’ll tell you, there’s a God who is going to put you in that circumstance, not to discourage but to absolutely cause us to come to a place where we learn to look away, we learn to look to Him. We learn to cast that burden.

We talked about some of those things last week. The humble place that we need to take, but it also involves an action, doesn’t it? Faith without works is dead, being alone. What good is it to say that I believe, but it never is translated into action? God just doesn’t want us to come in here on Sunday morning and sing nice songs and declare our faith. He does want that, but this has to be translated into what we do this afternoon and tonight and tomorrow and the next day in the battles that God places before us, because He will place them. He is going to bring us, if He’s gonna have a people that are able to stand in this hour, we’re gonna have to learn on the field of battle how to stand, aren’t we? We’re gonna have to have a faith that is ready to stand in this battle and that battle, and the other one, and stand on behalf of one another too.

You know, part of what we read in 1 Peter 5 has to do with resisting, or being alert for the devil and so forth. He wants to go around and eat people, basically, whom resist firm in the faith, steadfast in the faith, depending on the translation. There has to come a place where we not only recognize what’s going on, but we are standing and we’re saying, No, devil, I don’t believe you. I believe God. I am trusting my life into His hands. His purpose is the one that is going to prevail in this circumstance. If the Lord allows you to kill me, praise God, I know where I’m going, because Jesus has already taken hold of my life. He’s given me a life that you can’t kill.

All the forces of hell tried to keep Him in that grave and not one of them could prevail. He came forth and the devils ran, screaming. They stopped their three-day party and they went screaming into the night. My God, it’s all over. What looked to be our greatest final victory turns out to be our absolute defeat.

Thank God for what happened at the cross and the resurrection. The battle was won. Satan was paraded in defeat, but God wants everyone here to know that the same power that brought Jesus out from the dead is the power that He operates in our lives through, it’s the one that He offers to us so that we can share in what He has given to us.

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