Garry spoke this morning from Hebrews 11:1-6 TNIV about faith. Faith is the fundamental focus point of the Christian life. We receive faith as God’s gift to us (Eph 2TNIV) and have to exercise faith daily to please God. God wants us to launch out into situations where we are totally dependent on Him (as in the picture.) If He doesn’t come through for us, we fall flat on our faces, but as we learn to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we can learn to fly!

1) We need faith for ourselves
Our own faith needs to develop and we need to be quick to obey God, especially that ‘nagging feeling’ we have when He speaks to us, like a stone in a shoe or a splinter in our skin that just won’t go away!

2) We need faith for others
James 5:14-15 TNIV talks about the prayer of faith offered by the elders of the church resulting in healing. Matt 9:1-2 TNIV talks about friends bringing someone to Jesus and Jesus seeing their faith. In Matt 8:5-10 TNIV it is the centurion’s faith which amazes Jesus and results in the servant’s healing. We can believe for others at times and see amazing things happen as a result of our faith!

3) Unbelief, or lack of faith.
In the narrative of the boy with the evil spirit, the disciples could not drive out the evil spirit because they had no faith. Often, we think of faith as a muscle which needs to be exercised to grow, but Jesus talked about faith the size of a mustard seed, emphasising the presence of faith rather than its size. In Matt 17, Luke 17 and Mark 9, we see how the boy’s father needed help to overcome his unbelief.

There is an unbelief that God cannot work with (see Matt 13:55-58 TNIV or John 12:37-41 TNIV). If people are offended by Jesus and refuse to believe, choosing not to believe, they can limit what God chooses to do and hearts can be hardened. But there is an unbelief that is borne of incredulity or helplessness which Jesus is pleased to shore up (see the father’s cry ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’, where the word is likened to the practice of frapping, whereby a wooden ship is held together in a storm by chains and ropes around the hull to give extra support.) The father came to Jesus and asked for support in his desperation and lack of faith and Jesus responded by healing his son. God is able to work even when we don’t fully believe, as in the case of John Wimber, who preached and taught about healing for some time before he actually witnessed anyone healed.

4) Developing faith outside our comfort zone
At home, we have a fridge magnet that says:

As we hear God’s word (Rom 10:17 TNIV), we are encouraged to believe for new things and to step out of our comfort zone. Is 42:16 TNIV reminds us that God has said He will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths. That is extremely disorientating for a blind person, but God wants us to move beyond the familiar and well-known.

5) Faith Can Challenge
As we are led into unfamiliar territory, we will feel uncomfortable and afraid. It’s then that we have to trust in God alone. We may be scared, but if we get out of the boat, we find we can walk on water. We shouldn’t criticise Peter for sinking, but should realise that he was the only disciple who had the courage to do something beyond his normal experience. We should cheer other on to good things and not laugh at failure, but be there to pick each other up and spur each other on to faith and good works.