"Steps of Faith"

10/07/2016 13:11

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Date: 10 July, 2016

Text: Jeremiah 32-33

Title: Stepping Out By Faith

Theme:

Proposition: We Must Step out By Faith!

Rhetorical: Are you taking steps of faith?

Introduction:     

 

We love stories of faith.

 

David and Goliath

Gideon and the Midianites

Peter walking on water

George Mueller and His orphanages

Hudson Taylor and His China Inland Mission

 

All of these men stepped out by faith to do what God wanted them to do. They exemplified the truth found in

2 Corinthians 5:7  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

 

Another story that comes to my mind when thinking about faith is the Israelite priests who led Israel into the promised land. If you know the story, you'll remember that Israel's first barrier to cross when going into that land was a river that was running at full spate. It was completely flooded that time of year.

 

Here is the instructions that God gave them.

 

Jos 3:13  And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

question: How would you have faced this test of you faith?

·         Would you have picked up the ark?

·         Would you have walked towards the flooded river?

·         Would you have slowed down as you got close to the swollen bank?

·         Would you have put your foot down?

·         Would you have put your foot down - expecting the waters to part?

 

note: We can talk about faith today and it is theory - until we face a test like this. What did the priest's do?

14 ¶  And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;

15  And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)

16  That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

17  And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

 

exp. There are going to be times where God tests our faith. What are we going to do? It's not easy to go against logic and sight.

But we need to obey God and step out by faith! ARE YOU TAKING STEPS OF FAITH? Or are you hesitating to trust God?

 

Our story this morning is about a step of faith for God's prophet Jeremiah.

·         He's been preaching captivity (32:1-5) and restoration.

·         The captivity part was visible. The city was under siege by the Chaldeans. GOD WAS JUDGING THEM BY GIVING THEM INTO THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY. They were soon going to be taken into captivity in Babylon just like Jeremiah had said.

·         But, it was more difficult to believe in the restoration of Israel to this land. It was not visible and it was illogical. It was a matter of TRUSTING THE WORD OF GOD.

 

This morning, we are going to walk with Jeremiah as he steps out by faith and puts his money where his mouth is. He's been preaching RESTORATION, but can He live it?

 

I. The test: Make a bad real estate investment because God says it is good.

exp. Israel was being plundered by an enemy. Jeremiah's home town was Anathoth - 10 miles North and a bit East of Bethlehem. The real estate was not marketable because nobody wants to buy conquered real estate.

            A. God PUT THE TEST IN FRONT OF JEREMIAH. vv.6-8

                        1. Your cousin is going to come to you with a real estate offer. v.6-7.

                        2. I want you to accept His offer. v.8

                        "Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord."

            B. Jeremiah takes this step of faith without faltering. vv.9-12

                        1. He weighed out the silver. v.9

                        2. He wrote out the contract. v.10

                        3. He records the deed. v.11

                        4. He subscribes witnesses. v.12

            C. He puts this transaction on display as a testimony to the truth of God's Word. vv.13-15

exp. Jeremiah is no different than you or I.

·         It may have taken most of His money to take that step of faith.

·          It certainly put him in an awkward position if for some reason the "restoration" fell through.

·         What if it was just his own pride leading him to take this "step of faith."

app. I want to remind us this morning that GOD HONORS STEPS OF FAITH.

Ps 31:19  Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

ill. Eric Lidell was reminded of this as he honored God and refused to run on the Lord's day because He believed God was more important than sport.

"With very little time remaining before the Olympics began, Eric trained and qualified for another race that was not scheduled on a Sunday. Eric knew his chance of winning the 400-meter race was slim because two of the runners in this race had set world record times. In addition, on the day of the race, Eric was assigned the worst lane. But a note in his pocket encouraged him. The team trainer had given it to him before he left his hotel room. It read, "He who honors Him, He (God) will honor." Liddell knew his decision not to run on Sunday honored God.

Going for the Gold 
As Eric rounded the turn on the track where all the runners usually come together, he expected to see the world record holders ahead of him. But he was there alone. He threw his head back even more than usual and pumped his legs as fast as he could. Eric crossed the finish line first, winning the gold medal! He had also set a new world record! Eric received a hero's welcome when he returned home. The newspapers now tried to outdo each other praising him. But Lidell knew their praise would not last long. He would soon announce his plan to stop running and go to China to tell people about Jesus."

app. Want to step out by faith - IN FRONT OF OTHERS. It won't be easy - BUT IT WILL BE WORTH PLEASING THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. DON'T LET YOUR PRIDE KEEP YOU FROM TAKING THE STEP OF FAITH THAT GOD HAS PUT IN FRONT OF YOU.

 

 

II. The truth - Jeremiah needed to lean hard upon God in what looked like an easy decision. (Jeremiah goes to prayer as he has "risked" so much in obedience to God.)

Jeremiah 32:16  Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying,

exp. We are wrong this morning if we think - well it was easier for Jeremiah because He was a great man of God. God help us to remember this morning that MEN ARE JUST MEN. GREAT MEN ARE ONLY 'GREAT' BECAUSE THEY LOOKED AT GOD INSTEAD OF THEMSELVES.

ill. Elijah would be one the GREATEST OF THE GREAT MEN but God emphasized to us that HE WAS JUST A MAN LIKE YOU AND LIKE ME.

Jas 5:17  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

            A. His exclamation shows the passion of his heart.

Jer 32:17  Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:

note: His words are "Alas Lord Jehovah!" He prayed with this exclamation when God called him into the ministry and he felt like He couldn't do it.

Jeremiah 1:6  Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

exp. Jeremiah was casting himself upon God in the place of impossibility.

Carolyn Hamlins song "Grace" -

"Your will cannot lead me where your grace cannot keep me.
Your hand will protect me: I rest in your care.
Your eyes will watch over me: Your love will forgive me.
And when I am faltering, I still will find you there.."

app. It may be with faltering - but will you step out by faith claiming the faithfulness of Jehovah God?

            B. He exhalts God.

                        1. The Creator can do anthing. v.17

                        2. The almighty rules over all mankind. v.18

                        3. The omnipotent One is omnipresent and omniscient. v.19

            C. He praises God for WHAT He has done.

                        1. God you delivered your people from Egypt. vv.20-21

                        2. God you brought them originally into the Promised Land.v.22

                        3. God you have given your people into captivity as judgment. vv.23-24

            D. He reminds God of what He has just asked Him to do. v.25

app. How real is your walk with God. As He asks you to step out in obedience, do you take Him at His Word and cast yourself upon Him? When is the last time you did something that God wanted you to do  that made you cry out to God for His help.

question: I repeat the question of Isaac Waats - ARE YOU A SOLDIER OF THE CROSS - or are steps of faith only for past generations of God's people?

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith’s discerning eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine.

app. Christians - we must fight if we would reign - God help us to have courage and cast ourselves upon Him!

 

III. The triumph - God isn't going to fail Jeremiah.

exp. Jeremiah obeyed and bought the land. Jeremiah did so with great dependence upon God. God isn't going to fail His obedient servant. But, God will take this opportunity to strengthen and challenge His faith.

            A. Jeremiah - Is anything too hard for me?

Jer 32:27  Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

exp. You said to me, "There is nothing too hard for you," Did you mean it? You are in prison. You have "risked" your money. The city is under seige! Do you still believe I am able to do anything?

note: It is "easier" to pray, "God you can do anything" than it is to step out by obedience and "risk" yourself upon the God who can do anything.

            B. About this captivity - it is my judgment upon a disobedient people. vv.28-30

note: BUT "I WILL GIVE THIS CITY INTO THE HAND."

question: Does this remind you of our study two weeks ago of Certainty in Uncertainty. God is in control. The enemy is only apparently victorious because God has allowed it for judgment.

exp.  It is easy to "trust" the Lord when everything is going together nicely, but what about when God allows difficulty for His chastening? Heb 12:11  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

app. God had not been beaten, He had allowed the enemy to be victorious for the ultimate good of His people. He was going to make sure they were in a place of righteousness so that He could bless them.

            C. BUT - I will bring them back just like I have told you.

36  And now therefore thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence;

37  Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:

38  And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:

 

42  For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.

43  And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.

44  Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.

exp. Jeremiah's property would be valuable because their would be a housing boom when Israel returned to the land. THE VERY THING THAT TROUBLED THE HEART OF THE PROPHET WOULD BE OF GREAT BLESSING IN THE DAY OF GOD'S DELIVERANCE.

App. Your greatest fear with your step of obedience may be the greatest blessing.

Is God speaking to your heart about a step of obedience you need to take individually - church attendance, baptism, tithes and offerings, soul winning, salvation, intercession, etc.

 

As a church we will at times face a step of faith in obedience. If God puts it before us we need to step out by faith and obey Him. We may have to "risk" something to obey Him but God isn't going to fail those who honor Him before this world.

 

conclusion: What is God asking you do do today?

Are you saved?

Are you baptized?

Are you a faithful part of the church?

Are you telling others about Jesus?

Are you giving tithes and offerings to the work of the Lord?

 

May God help us to STEP OUT WHEN GOD PUTS A TEST IN OUR WAY. The truth is we will have to cast ourselves upon him. But, because of Who He is we will triumph!