Here we are on the horizon of a new year!
It’s a typical time for us to take a peek at the year behind us and to plan for the year ahead. New year’s resolutions are made with determination to do better, to be better, and to make improvements in the upcoming year. There is a clean-slate feeling as we turn beyond the last page of the 2023 chapter tonight and open anew the 2024 chapter.
We typically look to the gift of prophecy at this time to foresee what lay ahead of us. For certain, the prophets are all making their 2024 predictions as they press into the Spirit to see what the coming year holds. With this being a US election year and with all of the wars and rumors of wars and earthquakes and volcano eruptions and storms and legal battles that are happening, it’s sure to be a year of turbulence and significance!
This is the time of the year that we typically begin to talk about vision and what the Lord has planned and purposed for the upcoming year for us as a church family. The subject this morning that I feel the Lord is taking us to seems a bit ironic in light of all of this; faith.
2 Corinthians 5:7
we live by faith, not by sight.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Now we can place our faith in just about anyone or anything. Faith itself is not some type of mystic power or authority. The context of the faith that we are referring to is faith in God. Faith in God, His word, His character, His will; faith in the entirety of Him; Father, Spirit, Son.
Life has always been dependent on faith in God. Of course, at His simple command, all of creation came into existence. However, from the beginning, Adam and Eve lived and died based on their trust in Him and His word.
Every battle faced by the nation of Israel was won or lost based on their faith. They won wars by doing some pretty crazy things. It definitely required them to live by faith and not by sight; by trust in God and not in their own understanding.
In fact, anything of significance that we find accomplished all throughout the scriptures prove that they occur only through a relationship with God and faith in Him. Healing, deliverance, protection, provision, whatever it might be that God provided, it rarely happened the same way twice except by radical obedience expressing faith in God!
Faith in God; being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. What we see are facts. Faith does not deny our reality. Faith is simply believing in and placing our hope in the God whose truth trumps any fact! The God of miracles! The God for whom nothing is impossible for!
16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed – the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us
Faith faces the facts head on; it does not deny them. However, faith sees beyond the facts to the promise that stands in opposition to the facts. Faith is placing our hope and expectations in God’s truth and not in our facts. It’s being fully persuaded that God has the power to do what He has promised. It is patiently and confidently waiting for God’s perfect time to fulfill His promise.
I believe that this morning, however, God is challenging us on the topic of faith.
Consider the gospel accounts of those who received the miracles of Jesus. I haven’t been able to find a single time that Jesus sought out someone to release a miracle into their lives. At first, I thought that Jesus had went to the man named Legion with many demons. However, Mark 5 states that the man came out from the tombs and went to meet Jesus.
What if we’re sitting in our tomb waiting on Jesus to deliver us and all the while, Jesus is waiting on us to have the faith to get up out of our grave and go to meet with Him?
The ones who received a miracle from Jesus were the ones willing to press through the crowds just to touch the hem of His robe, the ones who cried out as He passed by refusing to be silenced, the ones
Does God seem distant and far from you?
Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Who makes the first move? Stop sitting back and waiting on God to make the first move with the mindset of, “Well, if it’s meant to be, it’ll be.”
Move! Move! Seek! Seek!
We all know Jeremiah 29:11-12, right? However, we do not just accidentally stumble into our hope-filled future and into the plans of the Lord for us! Go on to the next two verses!
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord
Maybe we’re just not desperate enough? Maybe we just have too much of a craving for the things of this world? Maybe we just don’t know what it means to hunger and thirst for the Lord?
My dog knows what it is to crave and to hunger and to thirst. He’s unashamed of it, too!
We hosted Christmas at our house with my family. My dog wasn’t very social throughout the morning; he stayed hidden. However, when we all sat down around our table and started eating, people started to feel something bump into them underneath the table.
There he was with a big smile on his face and tail wagging. He couldn’t see the food from underneath the table, but he was sure of what he hoped for and was certain of what he could not see. My dog had faith that he was about to receive good things from above!
It reminded me of this account:
Matthew 15:21-28 (NLT)
21 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”
23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word.
When Jesus seems to be silent and you’re not hearing His voice, keep seeking. Press in even more passionately and fervently! This is faith!
Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”
When others try to persuade you to just give up on Jesus and to go a different way, keep seeking! This is faith!
24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep – the people of Israel.”
When God seems to say, “No.” to His own promise, keep seeking! Worship Him and remind yourself and Him of who He truly is! Declare what His word proclaims! Lift high the name of Jesus! Exalt Him high and lift Him up! Don’t stop crying out to Him! THIS IS FAITH!!! Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see!
25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”
26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children, my own family (Mark 7), and throw it to the dogs.”
27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table. Even the dogs are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates. (Mark 7)”
28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
Your faith is great. Your request is granted. Instant healing.
Jesus didn’t say that her faith was great because she likened herself to a dog eating scraps. Her faith was great because she pressed in to the character of Jesus and into the promises of His word. Her faith had nothing to do with herself and had everything to do with who Jesus was!
Those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus are far more than dogs under the master’s table. We are children of God! We have been adopted into His family!
Do we approach the Heavenly Father with the boldness and confidence of one of His children? Or do we view ourselves as sinful dogs begging for the scraps and crumbs that fall from His table?
Starting now in this new year, let’s allow a new faith to rise up within us! Let’s seek after God in relentless and passionate pursuit! It has nothing to do with us. Not our strengths or weaknesses, not our sin or past mistakes, not our goodness or the lack of it. It has everything to do with Jesus; who He is and what He has promised!