Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Story 6 How Big is Your Faith

How Big is Your Faith?

A story is told of a discussion between a terminal patient and his doctor. It remarkable because the patient is unusually calm given a man in his estate. The logical question for the patient was how he could remain so calm in the midst of tragic news.

The patient told of his dog and when they moved to their new house. There was a room that the patient was preparing. And yet the dog was at the door, scratching to come in. The dog didn’t know a whole lot of what was on the other side of that door, but what he did know what his master was there. That’s all he wanted. For the patient, death was but a door. That is faith.

We are called to live faith. God’s people have always been called to live by faith, from the days of Noah, to Abraham, to David and now after Jesus. We are called to take steps of faith. The question is do we? Can we point to a time in our lives that says, “Only by God”?

Where we are this morning in the journey through the Story, the Israelites are called to take a step of faith. For a year, they were camped at Mount Sinai. They prepared the place of worship for God, they received His Law. And now it was time to move on to the promised land. As they drew near, God had them send out a leader from each tribe. 12 men would spy out the land. 10 came back afraid of what they saw. 2 came back excited. One might wonder if they were together, but we know that they were. Their faith was dampened.

READ Numbers 13.30-14.10

Why didn’t they others have the faith that Caleb and Joshua had?  What affects the size of one’s faith? These are two questions that came to mind.

1. It’s a bitter pill to hear. Sin affects the size of our faith. The people were content being where they were. They were enjoying the year long rest, so to speak. Yet they had sinned. A few weeks after hearing the 10 commandments, they handed Aaron all their gold jewelry, who then in turn threw it into the fire, “and out came this calf.”

Sin tends to warp our view of God as well. Look to the parable of the talents, of which we read. The last one was too afraid of his master so he buried his talent. When we hold onto sins, we forget that God is gracious, forgiving. It doesn’t mean that he won’t spare us the rod. No, he later in the chapter hears the people’s prayer to die in the wilderness. No one over 20 years of age will enter the promise land, except Calen and Joshua.

Do you have a sin that needs to be turned over to God? Do you fear God because of it?

2. Remembering, or forgetting, what God has done. Where as the nation as a whole had forgotten that for the last year, they’ve needed nothing, that they were miraculously delivered from slavery, the plagues that God worked in their sight. They have had food to eat that they did have to harvest daily. So with all of this, many had forgotten that if God can do all of this, then how hard would it be to go into the promised land? The most powerful nation, Egypt, was already defeated by God.

Yet have we forgotten what God has done in our lives? Look back at your hardest storms in life. Can you see how God has moved? We can look around us and see that God does move, he does in ways that defy expectations. During my sojourn, there were times that I fretted about making ends meet, I couldn’t find employment. But through it all, God was faithful. We always had food on the table, and a/c cooling the house. God is good.

3. This is the most important step to determining the size of your faith. How much time do you spend in the Word? How much time do we devote to talking about the word with our family, with our spiritual family, or our friends?  I suspect that when God spoke, Caleb and Joshua listened and took it to heart. We are told to talk about the Word.

When the people were commanded to wear Scripture boxes, it wasn’t just to wear them and look weird. It was also an opportunity to talk to one another about what Scripture was within. It was an opportunity to talk to others, outsiders about faith in God.

Do we take time to talk about God, His word, His love and grace?

These are how we expand our faith. Repent of the sins in our lives. Remember what God has done for us. Spend time in fellowship and discussion of His Word, which requires us to read it daily.

And yet, perhaps you’ve not surrendered your life. All the above is for naught if you do not have Jesus in your life. After the service, if you need to get your life right before God, come and let’s talk.

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