Gifted: Faith

Gifted - Faith


Author: Gareth Russell Date: Sunday, July 19, 2015 Campus:

Gifted:Faith
Sunday 19th July 2015
Grand Union Vineyard Church

Today we talk about faith. We have been studying the gifts of the spirit and looked at tongues,

knowledge, miracles, healing, and today we look at faith.

Let’s start with what faith is not.

Faith is not about stepping into the unknown. It is stepping with the one you know.

Faith is not about how much you have, it’s about who you place it in.

Faith is not about stepping into the darkness, it’s about stepping into the light.

Faith is less about your uncertainty and more about your certainty in Him. Faith is not something you can orchestrate yourself, it is something God gives you. That is why it is a gift.

You see when we talk about faith being about the unknown, about the darkness, and about howmuch you have - fear and doubt can set in.

The unknown can produce fear. I’m not a big fan of roller coasters. I think it goes back to a bad childhood experience when my Dadtook me on the runaway train when I was about 6 years old in Disneyland.

A couple years ago, Andi and I were given two free tickets to Disneyland Paris because we were

Sky customers, so we decided to go. I walked in with fear and trembling, but at the back of my mind I seemed to remember that therewas one ride I didn’t mind too much - I seemed to remember is what themed after the rock band Aerosmith. This is what I remembered it to be.

So, in order to calm my nerves we headed there first.

It was known to me. I was safe there. I had, what I thought, was a pretty realistic expectation of

what was to come.

There was no line of people, so we got straight on.

We sat in the seats. Locked ourselves in. The countdown started.

10….9….8….

[“This should be fun” I thought]

5…4…3…

[“A nice easy way to start the day” I thought]

2…1…

Then it happened.

The rollercoaster shot from 0 - 60 in about 3 seconds and I instantly realised it was the wrong ride. “IT’S THE WRONG ONE!!! IT’S THE WRONG ONE!!! ANDI!!!!!!” My heart beat out of my chest. I screamed the whole way around. I don’t know if you have ever been on one of those rides, but about half way around they take a picture of you and you can buy it at the end.

When we saw our photo, my face was a picture. Sheet white skin. Big eyes. Screaming mouth.Maybe a tear or two. Andi was just laughing her head off. I’ve never seen so much joy in her face. But, you see I thought I was safe because I thought what I was coming to was known to me. The thing about faith is we can approach any situation, whether known or not known with fear because we are with the one who is known.

I don’t know your situation today. I don’t know if you are naturally a risk taker or someone whowould rather play it safe. But this morning, he is a challenge. What if your next steps were guided by God, rather than you.

What if you limits were set by Him and not by you. He knows you. He knows you better than you

know yourself. He knows what you are capable of. You don’t. You have so much more potential than you will ever know, but you will only realise that potential ifyou allow your faith in Him to take your hands off the wheel and let Him drive you.

There are also those who talk about the amount of faith you have.

There are those who suggest that you have not been healed, not got that job offer, not had a child,not got that house you wanted, because you lack the necessary faith. They treat faith like money accumulating in a bank account and until you have the right balance to pay for what you want, you cannot have it. This is simply untrue. How do I know that? Because Jesus said so. Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’

Mustard seeds are not big. In fact in the first century when Jesus was speaking, these black seeds would have been the smallest that Palestinian farmers would have planted. But the tree grew to over 12 foot when fully grown. A little faith can cause a lot of growth. You may have seen the Adidas slogan, impossible is nothing. But that actually was taken from a Muhammed Ali quote:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the worldthey've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

But even Cassius Clay was not original here. In these verse in Matthew Jesus actually says,“Nothing is impossible for you.”

How may times have you looked at your situation, or your hopes and dreams and thought - no, it is not possible?

Not according to Jesus.

According to Jesus, Muhammed Ali, and Adidas - nothing is impossible, when we have faith inGod. Nothing.

We can see difficulties overturned, we can see transformation in our families, we can seebusinesses started and jobs improved, we can see cities changed, we can see the Spirit of Godmoving through the darkest places in our land, we can see an end to human trafficking, we can seepeople brought out of poverty, we can see prisoners restored, we can see nations turning back toGod.

Nothing is impossible.

So, what is faith? In Hebrews 11:1 Paul writes “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for andassurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”

That chapter goes on to tells us story after story of how faith can work…

With faith we understand God as the creator, with faith we bring our best like Abel did, with faith weare protected as Enoch was, with faith we are warned about what is to come like Noah was, withfaith we are given our inheritance and a great legacy like Abraham was, with faith we are givenchildren like Sarah was, with faith we can bless others and worship even as we enter our finalstages of life as Jacob did…

…with faith we can be confident in our identity as Moses did, with faith we can overcome even themost impossible obstacle like the people of Israel did at the Red Sea, with faith we can see city walls collapse like Jericho did, with faith anyone even a prostitute can be used right in the centre ofthe will and plan of God like Rahab was.

In faith others conquered kingdoms, they administered justice, they gained what was promised;they shut the mouths of lions, they quenched the fury of the flames, they escaped the edge of thesword.

Their weakness was turned to strength; they became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

You see when we have faith in God, we have God in us.

When we have God in us, there is nothing ahead of us, nothing behind us, and nothing in us that can conquer us.

With faith, there is nothing that can cause doubt, nothing that can cause fear, nothing that cancause depression - because God is in us.

How do I know all this? Because the Bible tells me so.

I believe that this book is not just a history book. I believe that this book is not just a reference

book. This book has come into being because God breathed it into being. These words are not justwords, they are promises directly from the mouth of God that HE IS ABLE.

In our weakness, HE IS STRONG. If he is for us, NOTHING CAN BE AGAINST US. There is nothing, not even death that can separate me from HIS LOVE. These are truth. Not interpretations of the truth. These are truth. Absolutely truth. Nothing can be more true. God is God. God is good. God is love. God is here. God knows you. God loves you. You might be saying to me today, this is all easy for you to say Gareth. You are completely ignoring the difficulty of being in the middle of a situtation and not hearing God, doubting my faith, fearingthe worst.

Let me say this, no it’s not easy for me. I have hopes and I have dreams that I have not seen become a reality. I have things in my life thatlook impossible. I have had moments where I have questioned God, blamed myself, wondered ifmy faith is even real.

But here’s the thing, even in the midst of that fear, that doubt, that confusion - we have theopportunity to receive the gift of faith that continues through often impossible situations to speak what is not yet into reality.

Elisabeth Elliott whose first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed in 1956 while attempting to makemissionary contact with the Auca people of eastern Ecuador, said this “True faith goes into actionwhen there are no answers.”

Nothing we have, nothing we are, nothing we will be is a right of ours. Everything is a gift. But it is a gift that God LOVES to give. So, how do I get it? Romans 10:14 - 17 tells us. “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As itis written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’

But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heardthrough the word about Christ.”

When we hear about Jesus. When we hear what he did for us. When we hear why he did it. Wereceive faith. The more we hear, the more that faith increases.

Faith reflects Jesus. In the words of 1 Peter 1:3-7, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is keptin heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvationthat is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a littlewhile you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the provengenuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire –may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.”