Faith-Fueled

This past weekend I was in Manitoba ministering

I went on faith, not feelings – did not feel like going
Spiritually – emotionally – mentally not in the best space
Working through big picture ‘life’  … 50 years to the day of the first time I preached
Normally the trip involves 6 or 7 days
Boiled it down to two days removing everything else
I went “by faith” because God told me many decades ago, “Never ask for a speaking engagement, never say no when asked”

And I had two opportunities to preach God’s Word – so I went
No expectance
No excitement
No anticipation
No “faith in action”
‘Same old, same old’
Saturday (one city):
Drive 7 hours – 2 hours of sermon notes – service which was 6 hours long
Sunday (another city):
2 hours of sermon review and notes – 3 hour service – 4 hours with pastor – 7 hour drive home
Saturday night service
Worship practice
A short video with a so-so prophetic word / not impressed
Praying in the Spirit
Like a 747 taking off … slow at first, rattled, shook, and rumbled, took off
Worship flowed out of this – no overhead, no instruments, all older, familiar choruses
In me, I could feel faith building
Jude 20 “But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit”
“By faith” went to ‘filled with faith’ – “faith-filled”
I stood to speak – shared on hearing God’s voice; questions and answered session
The leader had asked me to prophesy over two people – so, as we were winding down for the night – I called the first one up
Then I prophesied over a lady sitting in the back (not scheduled)
Then called the second person up and prophesied over her
Then I prophesied over the evening’s worship leader (not scheduled)
So, four seriously powerful and deeply in-depth prophetic words … the best “I have done” in a year
Then some fellowship and a seriously late night as usual
HERE IS WHAT I REALIZED:
I originally went “by faith” which turned into knowing my faith had been activated and grew becoming stronger on the inside
So “by faith” became “faith-filled” which is good
Had some expectancy, a little anticipation, a bit of excitement
Then, as I stepped out to teach and prophesy my words, actions, attitude became fueled by my faith – “Faith-Fueled”
As believers, we sometimes simply have given up and no longer believe that anything will change
We believe in God and our salvation but as to bringing any change to our circumstances or situation, well… to be honest, nothing will change
Little to no faith active in our lives
At other times we “stand in faith” believing God – “Faith-Filled” and pray and once-in-a-while, rather infrequently, we actually see God move
But, God wants us to step out – move out – believing even when we don’t see, don’t understand, and people will think we are a “nut job”
James 2:14, 18-20 literally states that “faith apart from works is useless”
Faith is not faith if you don’t act on it and step out even when you don’t feel like it and don’t fully understand and can’t see how things will ever work out
I arrive home and I am thinking about all of this while walking my dog
God reminded me of a verse I read many years ago and noted in the margin of my Bible
Romans 12:11 The Message Version “Don’t burn out, keep yourself fueled and aflame …. cheerfully expectant.”
Fueled and aflame: Faith-Fueled is seeing things through God’s perspective rather than our own and then moving forward…
TRUE STORY:
There is this young Christian, his name is Nick Hall… He lived, at the time of the story, in North Dakota, and just weeks after he gave his life to Christ he was invited to go to Madurai, India on a mission trip
As he said: He arrived at a place called “Total Culture Shock”
A place with scores of Hindu and Islamic temples
At night he could hear the prayers of Hindus and Muslims rising up from the hills, beckoning their gods, begging for favour, faithfully following the rites of their respective religions
During the day they broke into teams and ministered in schools and prisons
At night they ran city-wide crusades – outdoor areas set up for 10,000 people who were expected to attend
It was pouring rain, the field had turned to mud, and only two hundred people showed up
The team felt defeated, deflated, and weak
Nick wondered why God has brought him all this way to set the team up to fail
The collective prayer of the team, “What is going on, God?”
After three consecutive nights of waterworks, light attendance, and soaked dress shoes, the team was ready to throw in the towel
They wondered what they were doing in India
They felt it was all so pointless
Preparation, fund raising, training, travel – for what?
Then, on the 4th morning of the event run, an evangelist from Australia who was working with our team came into the hotel conference room where we had gathered to pray
Nick writes: “Given our dejected state, the Aussie’s broad smile and chipper energy as he walked in seemed a little annoying.”
“Guys!” He said. “You won’t believe what I’m about to tell you!”
Let me read what Nick wrote:
“The only thing any of us wanted to hear was a favourable weather report, although I for one would also have welcomed news of where to find a good hamburger. ‘Last night’, the evangelist continues, ‘I was headed to our outdoor venue with one of our local pastors, and it was pouring rain again. I asked the pastor if the people in this area thought that their gods were somehow defeating our God … and that the awful rainstorms somehow indicated to them that our God was not able to afford everyone a comfortable and dry place to meet.’
Our Aussie friend went on. ‘So, I’m asking the pastor all of these things, and he turns to me and says, ‘Haven’t you heard? This part of India is dependent on its agriculture, and it hasn’t rained in months. People have been dying due to a lack of food in the midst of this drought and famine. As pastors, we believed the hope of Jesus proclaimed would lift the people’s hearts, so we promoted the campaign throughout this entire region. The promotion was so successful that whether people had any interest in coming, everyone knew that these events would commence on January 28. And on the day of January 28, the very evening the promoted events were to begin, the heavens opened, and the rain poured down.’
Our Aussie colleague then said, ‘At this, the pastor turned to me, ecstatic, saying, ‘People don’t think their gods are defeating yours. Not at all! Word is reaching through the villages that the God of the Christians has brought the rain.’”
Nick states: “We thought God needed our voices when all He needed was our presence. We had placed our hope in the power of small sound systems to carry a message, when God intended to use the sound system of the heavens all along. As the evangelist’s update soaked into our team’s minds and hearts, we couldn’t help but laugh. How had we totally missed the fact that God always has purposes beyond what we can see? We felt like total jerks before God. If we’d prayed then and there on the spot, we would have said, ‘Here we are, your beloved idiots. We’ll never question you again.”
Eventually the rain did stop during the trip, and in the end, more than 50,000 people that we know of surrendered their lives to Jesus. More than that, all of southern India had been exposed to our miracle-working God.
On the flight home, I remember thinking, ‘You just never know with God. You never fully know what He is up to, who He is after, how He is working all things together for good. I love to think about what it will be like in heaven, where we’ll have greater perspective on all that happened down here. I picture getting to watch a highlight reel of my life and seeing things from God’s all-encompassing point of view. Every six seconds, I’ll be saying, ‘Oh, wow. That’s what that was about. I was complaining the whole time that experience unfolded, but now I see .. .that was amazing!”
While we’re still living these earthbound lives, however, we don’t tend to consider the hard things that happen to us as very amazing at all, which is why faith is so critical to a person trying to follow Jesus. Faith is seeing through God’s perspective rather than our own.”
The book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 11 is called the faith chapter and it defines faith as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (verse 1)
While ‘confidence’ and ‘assurance’ sound great – for many people those terms have nothing to do with their actual faith
When it comes to the practical, day-to-day existence you and I and everyone else is trying to hold together, faith doesn’t often factor in
Confidence in what we hope for?
Nope! We’d rather place confidence in where we’ve been, what we’ve done, what is real, what is known
Assurance about what we do not see?
No thanks! We’re only sure about what our five senses detect
Hebrews 11:2 is where we learn that faith is what “distinguished our ancestors” and “set them about the crowd”
And thus should distinguish us and set us apart from non-believers
Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith (confidence – assurance) it is impossible to please God
So, apparently we need faith
We need to see things from God’s perspective
But, when we read the whole of chapter 11 we have to ask ourselves, “Do we really want to be like them?
Talk about being known as a “nut job” and a lunatic
People probably regarded Abraham as a nut job and a lunatic
Do you ever wonder what this kind of radical faith would look like today?
Imagine some seventy-five-year-old man – we’ll call him Warren – who suddenly started having visions. He couldn’t explain what was happening. Was his wife trying some new ingredients in her beef casserole? Had he been getting enough sleep? Soon after the visions came, a voice said to him, “Leave everything. Pack what you can. Grab your family, and hit the road. I will give you directions later.”
Can you imagine if Warren was your uncle or grandfather and called to give you the news that he was going to ditch all his earthly possessions – his home, his car, his sweet La-Z-Boy recliner – and head off to who-knows-where and possibly live there for the rest of his life?
I think most of us would think it was time to put Uncle Warren in a nursing home. And yet my story of Warren is basically just that of Abraham in Genesis 12, the guy known as the father of our faith. At age seventy-five he was called by God to leave everything. Perhaps more astonishing still, he said yes
By faith, Abraham set out to follow God …
He had confidence
He had assurance
When we are invited into an adventure with Jesus, then why is our first instinct to turn to human reason rather than to divine intervention?
We typically don’t see life situations through the lens of faith
If we did, we would see from a totally different perspective
God wants us to be thriving as we live a Faith-Fueled life…
But, most people I talk to are disillusioned with God and aren’t all that interested in taking Jesus seriously or being His friend
Maybe they use to love God,
But now they’re indifferent
Maybe they used to be passionate about seeing lives transformed in the Name of Jesus
But now they are lacking the hunger and are coasting through life
Maybe they used to feel excited about the adventure of going God’s way
But now they’re skeptical about whether He really cares for them at all
Maybe they never had real faith to begin with
And are sick and tired of being let down
No matter where we are coming from, a fresh perspective is available
We can do more than check the box on the form marked Christian
We can experience and know Jesus in a fresh, new way
We can actually thrive in a faith-fueled life
If you are tired of living for nothing more than your hopes, your dreams, your desires, and your needs and you want to start living beyond yourself
Jesus stands ready to reset your faith
If you are bored from praying prayers that you can manage on your own, and you want to start boldly petitioning all of heaven to radically change your world
Jesus stands ready to reset your faith
If you have had it with signing “How great is our God” and then living like He’s really, really small
Jesus stands ready to reset your faith
If you have grown cynical about
Whether God still lives and moves and breathes in and through His people
Whether there are still miracles in our midst
Whether your life is destined for more than a lacklustre existence that tragically resembles a gerbil running his scrawny legs ragged on a wheel going nowhere fast
Jesus stands ready to reset your faith
But you have to first say “no” to the Christianity that states that you can be safe, secure, and comfortable
And say “yes” to being challenged, stretched, and changed as you live by faith
Faith is often spelt “risk”
PERSONALLY:
I am no longer satisfied with what I have and what I am experiencing
I want to have the sort of continual impact that can only be explained in terms of faith
In terms of God’s activity in and through each of our lives
In terms of daily times where we are totally God-dependant
In terms of living a life that is bigger than ourselves
Folks, there is no growth inside the comfort zone, and outside the comfort zone is where faith thrives
So, I have begun to pray for our faith to be increased so that we can…
See the reality of Jesus daily
Savour (taste) the reality of Jesus daily
Share the reality of Jesus with other people daily
In the prophet Habakkuk, chapter one., the prophet is complaining to God about all of the injustice, hardship, and depravity he saw in the world around him
Habakkuk 1:2-4 “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.”
Ever felt like that?
I listen to your stories and I ask God why?
I look at all the pain and injustice that goes on in the world
Our neighbourhood, our city, our country
And wonder why?
I look at all of this and sometimes I wonder where God is in this mess
So, I found a friend in Habakkuk the prophet … I sit and read his words, his prayer, and say, “Yeah. What he said, God. Doeth what he sayeth!”
God replies to the prophet in Habakkuk 1:5
“Watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”
Still Habakkuk wasn’t so sure. And so he geared up for yet another complaint…
Habakkuk 1:13 “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil. You cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the disked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”
I love this guy’s courage, don’t you?
He is so confident in his understanding of the way things should be that he’s holding God accountable
Talk about a bold move
Well, God offers a rebuttal to that complaint too, and this time, his reassurance works
It’s good to note here that when arguing with God, there is really only one outcome
Which brings me to my favourite part of the story
In Habakkuk 3:2, we read the prophet’s prayer as his heart and perspective have been shifted, literally reset by God
These are his final words back to God
“Lord, I have heard of Your fame, I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known”
Habakkuk said, “Lord, I have heard of your fame…”
Some people are content to hear about God – all the stories…
About Moses and the Red Sea
About Joshua and the battle of Jericho
About David and Goliath
About the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus
But never let those life stories impact their own life
Habakkuk took it to the next level when he said, “I stand in awe of your deeds.”
It is often a common occurrence to hear stories of God’s power and goodness and then be awestruck as a result
But Habakkuk models a third dimension…
1> Habakkuk hears of God’s fame
2> Habakkuk stands in awe of God’s deeds
3> Habakkuk asks God to do it in his day
For Habakkuk, faith-fueled living demanded more than following the status quo
The stories of God’s faithfulness compelled Habakkuk to worship God for who He is and for all that He has done
And that awestruck experience compelled Habakkuk to call on the same wonder-working God to show Himself in his day
“Do it again God! Right here! Right now!Through us!
So, it can be a three day water party during a mission trip to India
Or, it can be the injustice and sin that is allowed to go unchecked on the earth
Or, an issue in your life or your family that is draining all the life out of you
Yet in all situations we can see a common threat about the character of God
While we always focus on God changing the circumstance, God is always focused on changing us
So, Psalm 24:1 reminds us of what it means to be people of faith
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…”
So, this confirms that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it – including “the world and all its people”
Which, by definition includes you and me
Thus FAITH says, “God, I trust you to be God in my life. I will walk with You even when I can’t see where we’re going. I will walk with You even when I don’t understand why you allow all of this evil to happen. I will trust You with all of my days.”
Every day, I need to take a moment and see who has my heart
Am I walking by faith in God – trusting and loving Him with my whole heart regardless…
Or … Am I doing my things my way occasionally reaching out asking Him to become involved
Faith or flesh
Supernatural or natural
Spirit or by sight
You know, people may be boring.
Churches may be boring
From time to time I may even be boring
But Jesus?
He is never boring
Life with Him is always on fire!
Faith in Jesus in the midst of all that is going on is critical to a meaningful life
It is critical so that we don’t become overwhelmed and simply give up working to make a difference
Growth does not happen in the comfort zone
It happens only when our faith is being stretched by our situation, circumstances and the world around us
Some of us need a FAITH RESET
It is good to be faith-filled
It is better to be Faith-Fueled
Like Habakkuk we need to:
1> Review the evidence of how faithful and powerful God has been
Biblical evidence and your own life story
2> Renew the awe
Ask God to renew your amazement over who He is and all He has done
3> Reaffirm your trust and faith in Him
Like Habakkuk did, dream big and ask God to perform miracles, part the sea, and show His power right here, right now, in your life
And then go wherever God says to go and do whatever God says to do
It is one thing to pray big prayers
It is something completely different to put feet to those prayers
God is looking for people listening for His voice and ready to respond in faith… faith-filled and fueled by faith
So why get up in the morning? – I believe in God
Why be excited and enthusiastic about life? – I believe in God
Why hope things will work out for good? – I believe in God
Why live with confidence? – I believe in God
Why have hope each day? – I believe in God
Why be assured that God is in control? – I believe in God