Unlocking Faith's Potential
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Date: 31 January, 2019
Text: Luke 17:5-6
Title: Unlocking Faith's Potential
ill. When I went to Israel - When the bus was coming into Nazareth - crossing points on this planet where the body of the Lord Jesus would have stood or walked. I wish I could have seen GPS trails of his journeys.
exp. Nazareth would have been a very small community in the Lord's day. Everybody would know one another. Probably not much bigger than the original Auchendinny. (No mobile phones - everyone would be in the market together....)
note: You would think that everyone would have had incredible faith that Jesus was the Messiah and yet it seems no place struggled with faith as did the Nazarene's.
Mark 6:1 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.
2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?
3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
exp. Jesus would have wanted to do great things there. Jesus was willing to do great things there. He wondered at the hardness of their hearts WHEN THE POTENTIAL OF WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED WAS SO GREAT - but so little could be done because they had locked up faith's potential.
ill. Another area - Northern Israel - Mt. Hermon - Caesarea Philippi - Peter's confession "Thou art the Christ!" The transfiguration on the Mount (Peter, James and John).
exp. Jesus descends from that glorious experience to the unbelief of men.
Mar 9:17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;
18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.
19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.
20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
exp. Faith's potential would answer the anguish of this man's heart. MASTER I BELIEVE; help thou mine unbelief. Unbelief was keeping him from obtaining faith's potential.
ill. How often did our Lord rebuke the disciples for their unbelief?
On the Sea of Galilee - Mat 8:26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
Peter walking on water - Mat 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
exp. The disciples knew that they had not obtained faith's potential. They thought they needed more faith and so they said...
Luke 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
exp. The problem was not the amount of their faith because even a little faith could do great things. The problem was faith. If they would believe God, the potential for faith would be unlocked.
You must believe God to unlock faith's potential. The key is not more faith. The key is faith. Have you unlocked faith's potential by believing God?
text: Heb 11:1-6
You must believe God to unlock faith's potential.
I. The key: You must believe God to receive proof of SALVATION.
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
ill. Almost 20 years ago, God provided a great answer to prayer for me. I was dating an awesome young lady - Katie Lynn Hansen. We had been dating for about a year and a half. I had been pleading with God that we could get married in 2000.
I had been asking God to supply an engagement ring. The problem was that I had no money. Most of my money went to buy frozen burritoes. I was doing my Pastoral internship in Tucson, AZ.
I found a ring for sale in the paper - on the airforce base in Tucson. I went and saw it. It was beautiful. (love offering, appraisal, purchase.)
7 June, 1999 - asked Katie to marry me. It was sunset above a waterfall - I gave her music box....
exp. When I put the ring on her finger, she had the substance of things hoped for. THAT RING PROVED THAT WHAT HAD NOT BEEN YET ACCOMPLISHED WOULD BE ACCOMPLISHED.
question: Does God give proof of my relationship with Him when I believe? YES! - GOD GIVES ME THE EARNEST OF MY INHERITANCE NOW! (He puts the ring of possession on our finger.)
Ephesians:1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
exp. God put the ring of HIS HOLY SPIRIT on your finger when you unlocked the potential of faith at your conversion. WHEN YOU BELIEVED GOD - God gave you proof of future blessing.
note: If you don't have the Holy Ghost, you have never BELIEVED GOD for salvation.
Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
app. Do you doubt that this morning? Why don't you take God at His Word and put your faith in Jesus Christ death and resurrection for your sin and unlock faith's potential! THE POTENTIAL OF FAITH IS PROOF OF SALVATION.
II. The key: You must believe God to prove things invisible
....the evidence of things not seen.
Ill. We associate the term evidence with criminal courts. Someone is accused of a crime and the prosecuting attorney seeks to prove by evidence what took place (EVEN THOUGH THE JOURNEY DID NOT SEE IT TAKE PLACE.)
hymn: "Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when the crucified my Lord? Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble."
exp. We live in the 21st Century after Christ. None of us were there when Jesus was crucified.
BUT MANY HAVE TREMBLED AT THE CRUCIFICTION AS IF THEY WERE THERE.
question: How? - because the internal conviction of God's Spirit (before his indwelling) that Jesus died for our sin, that He rose again, that he offers man free forgiveness and everlasting life.
ill. The farmer in Skirling - told him about the Apostle Paul.
Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
exp. I told that farmer he could get saved - Paul did.
1Ti 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
question. How can someone so opposed to Jesus get saved? Because the conviction God gives brings them to faith in the CONCRETE EVIDENCE which is unseen.
2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
app. Do you want the evidence that is unseen. Believe God as He convicts you internally that this is true! Believe Him and let Him prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is as He has said.
III. The key: You must believe God to receive the Master's, "Well done."
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
ill. Mankind has put up in different places, "Halls of fame." These walls commemorate those who have excelled in Sport, medicine, science, literature, music.... They are high achievers who deserve praise for what they accomplished.
exp. We are looking this morning at Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11 is the Bible's hall of fame. It tells us what God's people have accomplished by faith.
Daniel slept in the lion's den. Obeyed God by faith and prayed despite the commandment.
The three hebrew children walked through the fire. Obeyed God and refused to bow the knee.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith,
exp. Other generations have wanted to do something for God - AND THEY DID IT BY FAITH.
ill. The apostle Paul lived his life to accomplish great things for God.
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
app. Do you want to do something for God and get a good report! Unlock the potential of faith - BELIEVE GOD. Don't let unbelief keep you from accomplished what God wants you to accomplish.
IV. The key: You must believe God to understand origins.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
ill. The unbelieving friend on the phone - "Do you believe in a literal creation? How old is this earth? Why should I believe you instead of science." I said, "Can I ask you a question? Richard Dawkins, David Attenbourgh? Do they believe in God? They are biased against God.
note: Those men will never understand Creation - unless they unlock the potential to faith.
exp. God spoke this world into existence. How do I come to that understanding? BY FAITH.
Gen 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Gen 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
Gen 1:9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
Gen 1:11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
Gen 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Gen 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
Gen 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
app. Creation science is wonderful - but it does not prove origins. Faith allows men to understand the origin of this world. By the way - those who claim to be saved - but deny creation - are either unsaved or in unbelief.
V. The key: You must believe God to obtains righteousness.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
ill. Cain and Abel - part of the first family (Adam and Eve's children)
Genesis 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
exp. It seems evident in the story that Cain and Abel had some knowledge of what offering was acceptable to God. Even should they have had no knowledge, when God accepts one and not another - it is pretty obvious to a man of faith what God desires. Cain was determined to worship God his way and was jealous of the favour of God on the man of faith. Cain killed Abel.
ill. Cain is a picture of self righteous religion - doing good things, worshipping God according to tradition - man's thought. Abel is a picture of those who accept what God has declared that RIGHTEOUSNESS IS BY FAITH THROUGH A BLOOD SACRIFICE OF THE LAMB.
app. The potential of faith is obtaining righteousness WITHOUT WHICH NO MAN CAN GO TO HEAVEN. Have you come by faith through the blood of the lamb. Has God declared you righteous?
VI. The key: You must believe God to be taken by God to glory.
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
exp. two men in the OT went to glory without dying. Enoch is the first and Elijah the second (the fiery chariot.) Enoch was a righteous man.
Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
exp. Many have said, "Enoch and God were walking together and God said, 'Enoch instead of going back to your home, let's go to mine."
question: Did you know that Jesus is coming to take believers to glory.
1 Thesallonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
ill. I return to the conversation I had on the phone. I don't believe that - WHAT YOU DON'T BELIEVE DOES NOT CHANGE WHAT IS TRUE.
exp. However, without faith in Jesus death and resurrection - UNBELIEF WILL KEEP HIM FROM GOING.
app. Are you letting unbelief keep you from everlasting life?
John 10:24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
30 I and my Father are one.
app. If you believe God - God gives you everlasting life and one day God will come to take you to glory. It could be today? Are you ready?
VII. The key: You must believe God to be rewarded by God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
question: Believer's I want to focus this final point on us. If I am trusting God, will I be praying? He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
ill. Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
exp. The evidence of faith - is continual coming. How is your faith?
app. When is the last time you found yourself struggling in your day and went to prayer to take care of it? How often is the battle with your day unbelief?
conclusion: Faith's potential is great!
We don't need greater faith. We need FAITH.
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
HAS GOD BEEN SPEAKING TO YOU - CONVINCING YOU - WILL YOU TRUST HIM?
DO YOU NEED TO GET SAVED?
DO YOU NEED TO FOLLOW THE LORD IN BELIEVER'S BAPTISM?
DO YOU NEED TO REPENT OF UNBELIEF?
WHAT DON'T YOU HAVE BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOT UNLOCKED FAITH'S POTENTIAL.