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“What Happens When You Have Faith”

Daring Faith: Key To Miracles (Part 1) March 5, 2017 at LWCF

(adapted with permission from Rick Warren, Saddleback Church - March 22, 2015)

          Welcome to our new series, “Daring Faith: The Key To Miracles”. What an exciting topic! Miracles happen because God exists. Faith involves coming to realize and rest in that. We’ve lots to learn about how faith and miracles go together in our lives. This series is going to challenge your faith. Many times during this series, you're not going to feel real comfortable - because we don't grow in comfort.But the result of growth is blessing, maturity, answered prayers, and many other wonderful things.

          Romans 1:17 (see your outline) says, “The Gospel shows us how God makes people right with Himself — that it begins and ends with FAITH. [With what? Circle that.It begins and ends with faith.That's how we get right with God.] The Scripture says those who are right with God will live by trusting in Him.” The just shall live by faith.                                                                                          

          Next, Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God… [Now, that's enough reason right there for us to spend several weeks on Daring Faith!] Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Did you know that God wants to reward you for earnestly seeking Him?

          Now, if the Bible says the way to live is by faith, the way we connect with God is by faith, and without faith, it's impossible to please God – what in the world IS faith? That’s going to take some weeks to unpack. Faith is like a beautifully cut diamond - it's multifaceted. One aspect we’re starting with today: Faith is seeing from God’s point of view. (Fill in blank in outline)

          Faith is seeing from God's point of view.

          We’ll come back to that. However, here’s what faith is NOT. Faith is not desire. You can wish for something, you can hope for something, you can pray for something, you can sincerely desire and crave something. That doesn't mean it's faith. Faith is not desire.

          Another thing faith isn't is it's not pretending that something is true that isn't true. I could have some butter sitting right here and I could say, "I believe that that's chocolate," and I have faith that it's chocolate. No, it doesn't matter how much faith I say I've got; it's not chocolate, it's butter! It's not going to be chocolate no matter how much I say it's chocolate. Faith is not psyching yourself up and pretending something is that really isn't true. You're not conning yourself into believing something. Faith requires a corresponding reality in the nature of the thing believed in.

          Faith is not a feeling. Feelings often get in the way of faith because you feel a certain way then you want to go that way whether you have the faith or not, and feelings become what we tend to rely on instead of our faith. Actually, often, faith says, "I'm going to move ahead in spite of my feelings; I'm going to do the right thing in spite of my feelings" – that's faith.

          Faith is not bargaining with God, saying: "God, if you'll do this, then I'll do this." God is not a gambler, and He will not be manipulated or pressured. Who are you, the creature, to order God around?

          Faith is a way of seeing, a way of looking at the world from God's point of view; it's having God's perspective. Here’s the Bible’s definition - Hebrews 11:1 “What is faith? Faith is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen and to be certain of the things we do not yet see.” Circle the phrase, "We do not see." Faith is being certain of things we do not see. It has to do with your vision. The Bible implies faith is a way of seeing. There’s often more than one way to look at something. What really matters is not how you see it, and not even how I see it, but how God sees it. Faith is learning to see things from God's point of view, having His vision.

          Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart will be flooded with light SO THAT YOU CAN SEE [emph.] the wonderful future that God has promised to those he called.” Think of the song with the lyrics, "Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see you." Now, what does that mean? There’s an unseen realm in the world that's more real than the seen realm. For instance, you can see the chair in front of you but you can't see the Holy Spirit. However, the Holy Spirit is more real than that chair...The Holy Spirit is alive from all eternity because he’s God: that chair will someday break down and wear out.

          The Bible says that everything you see is temporary; your body, your hair, that new building under construction – anything you see is temporary. It's not going to last. The things that last are actually unseen. This is where the faith realm comes in. The Bible has many examples of seeing with spiritual eyes or seeing with the eyes of the heart, seeing from God's point of view. In Genesis 21 Hagar and her son Ishmael have been cast out by Abraham because of jealous Sarah; she's sent out into the desert and she's there in the desert with no water and she's going to die. Hagar starts to sob because she can’t stand to watch her son die. All of a sudden, v19 says, "God opened her eyes" and she saw a well of water in the middle of a desert and they lived.

          2 Kings 6 has the prophet Elisha and his servant Gehazi watching an enemy nation coming against them because they’re helping the king of Israel. Gehazi, Elisha's servant, gets very frightened, having a panic attack. Elisha tells him not to be afraid then prays in v17, "Lord, open the eyes of my servant." All of a sudden, Gehazi's spiritual vision is opened up and he sees the hills full of horses and chariots of fire circling the city of Dothan where they were. All of a sudden, he wasn't afraid anymore. You wouldn't be either if you saw an army of angels! God opened his spiritual eyes.

          Genesis 15:5, God takes Abraham outside at night and says, "Look up at the stars," and he says, "Just imagine this: so shall your offspring be.These are going to be the number of people in your nation, as many as you can count and even more." God opened his eyes as it were and Abraham believed.

          After the resurrection, Luke 24(13ff), two disciples are walking along the road to Emmaus and they're all upset and discouraged because Jesus died on the cross, their hopes have been crushed. All of a sudden, Jesus comes walking with them but they don’t recognize him; they have a conversation, they invite him in for dinner. They sit down, have a meal together, and when he blesses the meal, 24:31 says “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him”: all of a sudden they realize, Jesus is right intheir midst! That's what God wants to do in you, through faith. He wants to open your eyes so you perceive and say, "Oh, Jesus is right here with me.Oh, the angel chariots are circling around me.Oh, God has a plan much bigger than my plan for my life" – and on and on.

          Today, let’s look first at what happens when we see with eyes of fear, then look at what happens when we see with eyes of faith. A good example of this is in the Old Testament in the Book of Numbers, chapters 13-14. Here’s the background: Moses has led the nation of Israel to freedom. He's got them free from Pharaoh and the Egyptians; they've crossed the Red Sea. They've been traveling for about two years from Egypt taking a slow pace. At the desert of Paran, they’re ready to head into the land that’s been promised to them for 400 years where they’d have their own country, freedom, be free from slavery. The Lord tells Moses to send 12 spies in to explore the land. When they come back, they give a mixed report. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, say: "It's incredible.Let's go take it.God has truly given us the Promised Land." Yet the other 10 spies come back and say, "Yeah, it's a great place, but…" and they have a whole list of problems why they can't go in. They're not seeing with eyes of faith: they're seeing with eyes of fear.

          Now, because they failed to see with eyes of faith, that entire generation missed God's purpose for their life in God's will. God said, "Okay, you failed the test.You can wander around the wilderness for the next 40 years until you all die." I don't want that to happen in your life. I don't want you to wander aimlessly for 40 years and then die, simply because you didn't learn to see with eyes of faith. This is why Daring Faith: Key to Miracles is such an important series, because I want you in the Promised Land (so to speak).

          Five things happen when we see with eyes of fear and they're all here in Numbers chapters 13-14. Number one (write this down)…

1.    We exaggerate our difficulties.

God has just delivered them from Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world and yet, now, they're worried about some local tribe. How quickly we forget! When you look at your problems with eyes of fear, they get bigger. Somebody criticizes you, and the more you think about it, pretty soon, you think the whole world is criticizing you. It grows by proportion.Numbers 13:32f “The land we explored devours those living in it.All the people we saw there are of great size.[ What, no babies or children?]...We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

              Now, here's what's ironic, they said, "This place is filled with giants and we can't take them on and they're too big for us and too powerful." Ironically, 38 years later, when the next generation did go into the Promised Land, you know what the enemy really felt? "We’ve lived in panic for 40 years because we heard about the ten plagues of Egypt.We heard about what your God had done against Pharaoh, the most powerful leader in the world, and we were scared to death and we were ready to surrender.” (Cf. Joshua 2:9-11) Implication: “You needlessly walked around in the wilderness for 40 years because we were scared to death of you!” So, we exaggerate our difficulties. Second thing we do when we see eyes of fear…

2.   We underestimate our own abilities.

Numbers 33:13 “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” Talk about low self-esteem! They're saying, we're insects; we're just a bunch of bugs compared to those guys. They're going to eat us for lunch. We can't do that. Notice, they say, "We saw ourselves like grasshoppers in our own eyes," that's their own self-image and then they add, "And we look the same to them." How do they know how they looked to the enemy? They didn't! There's a word for this: it's called ‘projection’ – you tend to project your fears on everybody else around you and that's what they're doing there. They’ve been slaves for 400 years, they’ve been freed for 40, but they're still mentally enslaved and the condition is, they still see themselves as helpless and they still see themselves enslaved. They’re missing seeing God as part of the picture. They're enslaved not by a Pharaoh now but by an idea, an image,a self-concept.

              Perhaps many years ago, people said things about you and to you and behind your back that were not true, but you believe them nonetheless. Some of those folks are even dead and you're still believing their lies, still enslaved to their image of you. Things like, "You're uncoordinated," "You're never going to amount to much," "You're not good at speaking," and so on. Yet you're not in Egypt anymore: that's a self-imposed prison.This is why Celebrate Recovery is so much better than any other recovery addiction program. If you go to AA, you stand up and say, "Hi, my name is Joe and I'm an alcoholic." In Celebrate Recovery, we stand up and say, "Hi, my name is Joe and I'm a follower of Jesus who struggles with alcohol." See the difference? Your primary identity is not your sin, your fault/weakness/failure: Your primary identity is in Christ. "I am a believer who struggles with loneliness, struggles with co-dependency/ worry/ panic attacks." That's not your primary identity – Christ is! Stop seeing with eyes of fear instead of eyes of faith. Fear leads one to overestimate the problem and underestimate our abilities.Third thing that happens when you see with eyes of fear…

3.   We get discouraged.

Numbers 14:1 “Then all the people began weeping aloud, and they carried on all night!” They had a giant pity party. Poor us, they're now crying and weeping because they don't get to go into the Promised Land. What's keeping them out? Their fear. They're not living by faith. We get discouraged. Fourth, we move from discouragement to griping.

4.   We start to gripe about all of our lives…

and everything that's going to go wrong in our lives. Numbers 14:2 after the all night pity party, it says, then "all the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron… [They picked on the leaders.] ‘We wish we had died in Egypt!’ they wailed, ‘Or even here in the wilderness!’" First, they mourn and now they murmur. First, they cry and now, they can complain. What it is? It's discontent. Highly critical people tend to be highly insecure people: they’re dominated by fear. If I don't feel good about me, I certainly don't want you feeling good about you; I'm going to criticize and complain and be against any success that you might have. We underestimate our abilities, we get discouraged, we gripe about our lives and then

5.   We eventually give up and we blame God.

Numbers 14:3 they said, "Why is the Lord bringing us to this land to be killed with swords… We'd be better off going back to Egypt!" What are they actually saying here? “We know better than God.” Notice, they're maligning the Lord, they’re blaming God for not letting them go in the Promised Land. Yet, God isn't holding them back: it's their fear that's holding them back! Suddenly they're remembering the ‘good old days’ of Egypt. It was slavery but it was safety. A lot of people get stuck in safe slavery: enslaved by a relationship or a fear or a habit or compulsion; they really don't like it but at least it's predictable, it's comfortable. But there is no real freedom without taking risks. You're either moving more towards safety and slavery, OR you’re moving more toward taking risks and freedom. God made you to be a risk taker, to live by faith. Don't die in the desert!

              Now, let’s contrast that with what the Bible says happens when we start to live our lives seeing everything by faith, learning to see God's vision, looking at things not as they are but as they could be. What happens when we see with eyes of faith? Six things...

1.    Faith shrinks my problems.

The first thing that I do when I begin to open the eyes of my heart and start to see what God is doing around me and I look at things from God's viewpoint: it shrinks my problem. It gives you a new, broader perspective. When you see your problem from God's point of view, then everything gets a whole lot more manageable. If you have a big God – problems gets small. (But if you’ve got a small God, problems get big!) When you come to the Lord saying, "Lord, you're a big God and you can handle this problem and I'm going to give it to you and I'm going to just let you work it out; I'm trusting you; I'm seeing with the eyes of faith, I’m ready to let you work it out” –then you can relax. You'll wonder, "How’s it going to be solved?" Well, that's God's problem; it's not my problem. Faith shrinks my problem. Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” The answer is, obviously, no - nothing is too hard for the Lord. Luke 1:37 Jesus says, “For nothing is impossible with God!” Faith shrinks my problems.

2.   Faith opens the door for a miracle.

Faith can move mountains. Faith opens the door to miracles. Mark 11:22-24 Jesus said, "Have faith in God! If you have faith in God and you don't doubt, you could tell this mountain to get up and jump into the sea, and it would. Whatever you ask for in prayer will be yours, if you only have the faith." What’s he talking about here? Telling a mountain to throw itself into the sea! God has set up the universe in a hierarchy of laws (or, principles) and the law of faith is actually a higher law than the laws of nature. That's where miracles come in. Because when faith is exhibited, the law of faith goes into practice and God set things up such that the law of faith can actually do more than the laws of physics. God’s not limited by the laws of nature because He created the physical world in the first place. God still performs miracles today. What's the mountain in your life? What's the thing that has never moved, you suppose it's not going to move? What is the mountain in your life that you’re saying, "It's never going to change"? That's self-defeating, a self-fulfilling prophesy. How do you know?! Maybe God wants to honour your trust in Him and show His power by superseding the law of nature. He has in the past, and in the present; he has done it all around the world. Faith opens the door for miracles. God is in the mountain moving business! Don’t doubt, but believe (Mk 11:23).

              Matthew 13:58 “Jesus did not do many miracles there [His hometown, Nazareth] because of their lack of faith. Their lack of faith caused Jesus to not do many miracles. If you’re saying, “I don't see many miracles in my life” – why (Biblically speaking) might that be? Are you seeing with eyes of fear or are you seeing with the eyes of faith? Faith shrinks my problems and opens the door to miracles.

3.   Faith moves God to act on my behalf.

Now, don't get me wrong when I say it moves God to act on my behalf. Beware the “health and wealth theology” where God ends up being a servant, where God serves you rather than you serving God: in many versions of that PERversion of scripture truth, God becomes a genie where you rub the bottle and youpray the prayer and then you hit the jackpot. No, God is NOT your genie. God is God and you're not! He’s not at your disposal to cater to your every whim.

              But, at the same time, Matthew 9:29 Jesus said, "According to your faith it will be done to you." When we get on board with God’s plan, God’s vision, then His resources are put at our disposal to carry out His vision. Jesus is pleased to act through His church. The faith prerequisite means you get to choose (in a way) how much God blesses your life. “According to your faith, it will be done to you.” God has worked in our lives because we humbly expect Him to. God won’t coerce you spiritually, He won’t do more than what you expect him to do.               According to your faith, it will be done to you. If you expect God to do a little in your life, He'll do a little (like at Nazareth); if you trust God to do a lot, He'll do a lot. Don’t be satisfied playing in kiddie beach in the shallows of life: put on your big boy swimsuit and dive into the deep end! We’rewanting you to challenge yourself to believe God more than you've ever believed Him for.

              Fathers love to bring pleasure to their kids, and even more, to their grandkids. When they do that, it brings them pleasure. It gives God pleasure providing for you. It gives God pleasure watching you succeed. He goes, "That's my girl. She's being exactly who I made her to be.That's my boy, he's being exactly who I made him to be."

              God is never moved by my griping, my complaining/ grumbling/ whining – none of that moves God. God is moved when I say, "God, I'm trusting you and I'm expecting you to keep your promise.You put your name on that promise and I'm expecting you to do it." That brings us to the fourth benefit of faith…

4.   Faith unlocks all the promises of God.

There are over 7,000 promises in the Bible; they're like blank cheques waiting for you to claim them. If you want to be a person of faith, a man or a woman of faith, you must learn to become a promise person. Memorize the promises of God so that you can claim them in your life when you need them. Now, what does God say about all 7,000 of those promises? 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are all "Yes" in Christ!” Circle that, "Yes" in Christ. All of the promises that God has made in His written word the Bible are "Yes" in Christ and faith unlocks the promises of God. Jesus is the name endorsing the cheque of all God’s promises; faith is presenting it to the teller.

              The promises of the Bible only apply to those who know the author – to those who know the name of Jesus. All the promises are "Yes" in Christ. When you know him personally, now you know the guarantor of all the promises ofScripture and faith unlocks them.

5.   Faith turns God-given dreams into reality.

Daring to dream is important because nothing happens until somebody starts dreaming. I’m challenging you to dream about your relationships, your marriage, family, your career. We're going to dream together about the future of this church.

              The Bible is full of people who had God-given dreams. Abraham dreamed of being the father of a great nation. Moses dreamed of setting the people free. Joseph dreamed of saving the oppressed Hebrews and his own family. Daniel and Paul and David, over and over, all throughScripture, all kinds of people who were inspiring dreamers. They didn't even have a verse that we have today: Ephesians 3:20 “Glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us, is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, and desires, and thoughts, or hopes!”

              Now, if ever there was a “blank cheque” verse in the Bible, that's it! God is able to do far more than we would dare to ask. What are you afraid to ask God for? God is able to do far more than we could even dream of. It’s as if God were to say to you, “Think of the greatest thing you could ever dream of, the greatest thing you think I could do in your life, and guess what? I can top that.” We limit God by our unbelief.

              If there were to be tears in heaven, it might be if we were to get there and realize all the things that we could have done if we had just believed God for a little bit more. So, believe God a little bit more than you ever have before, because God is able to do far more than we would dare to ask or even dream of.

              Number six, let’s end with this one,

6.   Faith gives me power to hold on in tough times.

Daring Faith unlocks the promises of God, shows us the power of God, turns dreams into reality, and gives us the power to hold on in tough times. Faith doesn't always take you out of the problem: faith often takes you through the problem. Faith doesn't always take away the pain; faith gives you the ability to handle the pain. Faith doesn't make life heaven on earth – things are never going to go perfectly on this planet, you will always have pain and suffering in your life – faith gives you the ability to handle it. It doesn't take you out of the storm, it calms you in the storm.

              Corrie ten Boom was a young woman sent to the Nazi death camps, the prison concentration death camps of Buchenwald and Auschwitz. She said that the people who lasted in those camps were those who had the deepest faith. Why? Because faith gives me the power to hold on in tough times. It produces persistence. It gives you the ability to bounce back. Study after study has shown that probably the most important characteristic you can teach a child, the most important attribute you need if you're going to make it in life, is resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back, the ability to keep going. Why? Because nobody goes through your life with an unbroken chain of successes. Everybody has failures, flops, duds, mistakes. We all embarrass ourselves. Nobody goes through life scot-free. We all have pains, problems, and pressures. The people who make it in life have resiliency.

              2 Corinthians 4:8-9 The Apostle Paul writes, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we're not crushed and we're not broken. We're perplexed, [that means we’re confused and we don't know why this happened; we're scratching our heads, perplexed] but we don't give up and quit.We're attacked, but God never abandons us.We get knocked down, but we're not knocked out. [He adds] We get up and we keep going!” Where do you get resilience like that? Faith.

              Now, do you see why you need to work on strengthening your faith probably more than anything else and why we're going to spend several weeks on this? Because it’s faith that does these six things: 1) shrinks my problems, 2) opens the door for miracles, 3) moves God to act on my behalf, 4) unlocks all of the promises of God, 5) turns dreams into reality, and 6) gives me the power to hold on in tough times.

              By the way, faith is the way we get to know God. John 3:16 says “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him, [that means, has faith in Him] should not perish but have everlasting life.” It's how we get to know God and so have eternal life.

              Yuri Gagarin was a very famous Russian cosmonaut, an atheist, the first person to go up and circle the earth. When he came down, he claimed, "I searched the heavens and I found no God...I looked for God in the heavens when I was up there and I did not see him, there is no God." Atheists applauded and said, "Yeah, Yuri, you just proved there is no God."

              A few months later, the American John Glenn, a Christian who later served as a senator but at that time was an astronaut in the Gemini Program, went up and circled the earth three times. When John Glenn came down, his first words in his interview were, "I saw God everywhere." He said, "I felt his glory in the heavens.I saw his presence in the stars, I felt his power in the sun.I saw God everywhere." Which one was telling the truth? The answer is, they both were. Because Jesus said in John 3(3), “Unless you're born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” You can't see what God is doing behind the scenes. You can't see the miracles. You can't see the mighty things he's doing. You just can't see it because you're not tuned in. You can't see the promises. In order to catch God’s vision, you need to be totally surrendered in your life to the Lord. Let’s pray.