Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Have a Little Faith

As many of you know, I love movies and use them extensively to illustrate points in my messages. They provide a springboard for the message and a common frame of reference. For this message, I look to one of my favorite movies, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".

In this movie, Indiana Jones must retrieve the Holy Grail in order to save his father. If you are familiar with the series, you know that retrieving anything is not an easy task. Indiana Jones must deal with three challenges to retrieve the Holy Grail. The last challenge, in my opinion, is the most difficult of all. It required him to leap from the lion's head across a bottomless chasm. When you consider the distance, it was impossible to run and jump across. Indiana Jones remembered the notes from his father's notebook. It required not a physical leap but rather a leap of faith. Indiana was able to quickly get through the other challenges with only his strength and wits to get him through them. Now, he is faced with something that required him to have faith. He could not trick or power his way through this challenge. It required him to trust in something that would make the impossible possible. 

We, too, face those same types of challenges that require us to rely on our faith to overcome the impossible. We have all faced those impossible situations in our lives. In the past couple of weeks, I have been dealing with the impossible challenges regarding many aspects of life. Those challenges seem to be impossible. I feel like I am standing in front of a brick wall that extends to infinity in all directions. The situation that I now face seems to be impossible to overcome on my own. I cannot overcome that obstacle by relying on my own strength, wisdom and experience. I have to take that leap of faith. 

I am not alone in my weakness of faith. Let us look at Peter in Matthew 14. The disciples see Jesus walking on the water. Peter calls out to the Lord and shouts out, "Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water." Jesus responds, "Yes, come." Peter goes over the side of the boat that he and the disciples are in and begins to walk on the water just like Jesus. However, when he sees the waves and feels a strong wind, Peter loses his concentration on the Lord and begins to sink into the water. He cries to the Lord to save him. Jesus grabs him and says, "You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?"

When you face trials and tribulations in life, you must concentrate wholly on Him and be resolute in your faith. I know that it is difficult especially when you are facing problem after problem and each seems larger than the last. Each one piling up on you. You feel the weight of the world on your shoulders and you are driven to the ground. I have been there and will face more challenges like that in the future. We will all face more and more of those challenges in the future. No one is exempt. 

Over the past couple of weeks, my wife and I have been asked to pray for so many who are facing huge challenges in their lives. When I compare my challenges to theirs, I realize that theirs are worse than mine. I will not go into the exact nature of each prayer request, but I can tell you that what they face dwarfs my problems. Several have asked my wife and I how we are able to face our problems. We tell them the same thing. It is through faith that we are able to face them. 

In Mark 14, we see a great example of how faith can work to heal us not only physically but also spiritually. Jesus, while walking through a crowd of people, felt a woman touch his robe. She believed that by touching just his robe she would be healed of her bleeding. She had suffered for years and doctors could not help her. I am sure she tried everything and anything to stop the bleeding. She decided that the only way she could be healed was to just touch his robe. She believed in the man from Galilee and that he could heal. When she believed that and then acted, she turned belief into faith. She, like Peter, took that step onto the water. She remained focused and was able to concentrate on reaching out to Jesus. Instead of getting spooked and slipping away from Jesus, she was able to touch his robe. Jesus asked who had touched him. The woman came forward and fell to her knees. She told him what she had done. Jesus, in verse 34, tells her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over."

Yes, it was her faith that healed her. She believed in Jesus and then acted. Belief plus action builds faith. Peter could have believed he could walk on water and not taken that step outside of the boat. Peter's faith came from putting his legs over the side and walking on the water. Faith is sometimes fragile. We get distracted and lose it very quickly. Just like Peter, we sink back into our problems and feel that all is lost. I know that my own faith is fragile. There are times when I feel alone or that God is not listening. I feel that I have been singled out and that I am the only one in the world facing problems. When that happens, I refocus on Jesus and ask for help. Just like Peter, Jesus will snatch you up from the waves and lift you up.

All we have to do is have faith. When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast out demons, Jesus, in Matthew 17:20, tells them, "You don't have enough faith. I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." We, like the disciples have that same challenge. We allow the world to tell us that things are impossible and we believe what the world is telling us. Instead of listening to the world, listen to the Lord. He will never fail nor forsake you. You just need to have faith.

Once we exercise our faith, we can see the miracles that God provides in our lives. Some may be small and others are large. In my case, I received the miracle of life. God provided a team of doctors with the experience and wisdom to save my life. I had to not only believe but also have faith that God will provide all that I needed at the right time. Once I, like the bleeding woman, reached out in faith, I knew that I would be healed and that I could stand firmly in His grace.

May God richly bless you and keep you safe. 

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