While spending time in the Holy Ghost this morning, my Lord spoke to me and impressed upon me concerning faith and my own sometimes wobbly attempts in such. So I want to share a word on that and the scriptures He brought to me for today ….
“And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:58).
Poor Nazareth. The people there took offense at their hometown prophet, Jesus, and as a result, Jesus couldn’t do much in that town “because of their unbelief.” Their lack of faith robbed them of Jesus’ “many mighty works” ….. Wouldn’t that be an awful thing to have said about your home, about your family, about you even? That “Jesus couldn’t do much in or through you because you didn’t believe Him” …. Have you ever wondered, ‘Lord, why don’t You do more in our church?’… Could it be because of unbelief?
Have you ever thought to yourself, ‘Why do you cause good things to happen in my friends’ life, but not mine?’… Could it be because your friend believes God more?
You may be a candidate for James’s blunt wisdom: “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly” (James 4:2-3)
Faith is the key. God’s promises are activated by faith. Faith is not passive — it’s active. You cannot just stand there and say, “I’ll just wait over here. Maybe God will work; and maybe He won’t” ….
What are you doing about it? Are you like the sick patient who needs to get better — but refuses to go to the doctor? That’s foolish. You have to do your part. Or perhaps like the single who longs for a spouse — but never goes to the singles’ events at church? You can’t just sit in your basement and pray for someone to show up. Not a great plan. You have to do your part … Or maybe like the people who are filled with worry and want to have hope — but never read their Bible? They might carry it, respect it, and even defend it; but they’re not living in it. They’re not opening it like the Word of life and drinking from it like someone thirsty in a dry and barren desert ….
The next time you gather with other believers to cry out to God for rain, count how many people bring umbrellas for the trip home. Bringing an umbrella doesn’t force God to send rain, but it does indicate how seriously you are in expecting God to act! It is an act and expression of faith.
In (Luke 18) Jesus talks about the importance of persisting in prayer about our needs. He shares how an unrighteous judge finally gave a woman justice, not because He was a just judge, but because she was wearing Him out because of her persistence. This was the response of an unjust judge. Why was Jesus telling this parable? He was pointing out to His audience that if an unrighteous judge will give justice, what do you think God will do who does care and is just? Jesus went on to say, “Now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8).
What kind of faith was Jesus talking about? The passage is directed to God’s people, so we know this is not talking about saving faith. Jesus is talking to believers, but what an astounding statement! Jesus is clearly telling us that when He comes back for His people, He will not be able to find faith among them. How sad is that?
But what is this faith Jesus is talking about? The answer is simple, and can be answered in the form of a question: ‘when Jesus returns, will He find a church putting its trust in Jesus and His Word — or will He find a church that has compromised and is relying on the world system to meet its needs and fulfill its desires?’ And when I say “church” I am talking about His people, the body of believers ….
Why don’t Christians get more involved in evangelism? Many don’t get involved because of the fear of the rejection of people. The lack of faith Jesus is talking about in this passage is motivated by fear also, but a different kind of fear. This fear is not a fear of man, but rather a lack of trust that Jesus really cares about us individually and will take care of us and our needs if we will walk with Him and let Him have His way in our lives, so that we do have a future. The truly sad part is that most people calling themselves Christians do not even have faith in Jesus. They are more concerned with making sure they don’t lose what they have here on this earth than to let Jesus have His way His way in their lives and invest in the kingdom of God. To have faith in Jesus means to make a willful decision to believe that Jesus loves you and will provide you with what you need, though not necessarily always what you want. Jesus put it this way, He said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Why don’t the majority of Christians get involved in aggressively reaching out to the lost, hurting and scattered? Because truly they have no faith in God’s goodness, or their focus is not the kingdom of God and His righteousness, but storing up treasures on earth that will not carry on into heaven. Sadly, it’s become more of a “me generation” ….
And what is Jesus saying in this passage? First, treasures on earth will pass away. They are temporary and will not stay in eternity. But He says something more astounding: First, heaven is a real place. it is not a mystical place. It is more real than this earth. Not only is it real, but there are treasures there, but not just treasures, but treasures that will not pass away, that cannot be taken away by thieves because there are no thieves in heaven. But Jesus is also saying something very sobering. Heaven is forever. Our life on this earth is only temporary. This life will pass away. Your life in heaven will last for eternity …. Praise God!!
Jesus tells us in this passage that what we do now on this earth in this probationary life will determine what kind of life we will have in eternity. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33). But He did not mean only in this life, He meant it primarily for us in the life to come ….
Faith has to be active to be real. We can read in (2 Kings 5) about Naaman, the leprous general. God told him to go dip in the filthy Jordan River seven times. He was insulted. He hadn’t expected that healing would involve potentially humiliating circumstances. He would have paid richly for treatment, but he wasn’t eager to follow these instructions. At first he angrily refused, but eventually, once he humbled himself and followed God’s plan, he was healed. In faith, he did his part — and God did the rest ….
Remember the widow in debt from (2 Kings 4)? She collected containers from her neighbors to hold all the oil God gave her to pay back her creditors. In faith, she did what she could — and God did the rest ….
And great is the story of the woman in (Matthew 15) who had a sick child, and persisted in asking for what she needed, knowing it could only come from Jesus. Again persistence by faith was a major key in obtaining what she needed, and Jesus’ response? “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
A warrior heading into battle has to pick up his weapon. We must do what we can, our part, and primarily what we’re commanded to do as an expression of faith. Be persistent, put some action behind what you believe, trust God, and then watch God work. Only when we have done all that we know to do can we wait by faith for God to do what only He can do ….
In closing; Jesus knows that when He returns He will find religion, He knows He will find legalism; He knows He will find the neglect, hypocrisy and avoidance of His divine laws along with religiously justified violations of human dignity that have dogged humanity since the beginning of time. But will He find faith? Is your life characterized by unbelief or by bold, active faith?
Let’s pray ~
Father God, how sobering to think that my occasional unbelief could limit Your work in my life. I confess I am guilty my Lord and have fallen short. Please forgive me and grow my faith. I want to believe in You boldly. I want to start praying with more faith, standing firm in the assurance and belief that You have heard me and that You can and will act on my behalf. And as I do my part Lord, I will trust that You will do what only You can in my life. I will stop leaning to my own feeble understanding, and trust You alone and the mighty works that You want to do through me. Thank You for Your Word, Lord. And if there be any that do not know You Lord, I ask and pray that they find You. Use me if You may to reach the lost this week. In Jesus’ precious mighty name I pray, Amen ….