How God tests our faith

HOW GOD TESTS OUR FAITH
Rick Warren
February 10-11, 2007

Pastor Tom and I want to talk to you about, How does God test our faith?

The Bible says in Matthew 9:29 “According to your faith it will be done unto you.” That’s one of my favorite verses in the Bible. What are you expecting God to do in your life? This is the law that God has established. It’s called the Law of Expectation. The fact is, we tend to get what we expect out of life. We tend to see what we expect to see. We tend to hear what we expect to hear. We tend to feel the way we expect to feel. We inevitably accomplish what we expect what we’re going to accomplish. This is the law of faith. God says you get to choose. Because “According to your faith it will be done unto you.”

Another important verse on faith in the Bible is Hebrews 11:6. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” How many of you are parents? How many of you are pleased when your children trust you? God is the same way. God is our heavenly Father and God is pleased when we trust Him. That’s why the Bible says without faith it’s impossible to please God.

You can obey God. You can do the right thing and still not be pleasing God because you’re not doing it in faith. So it’s important to learn how to live expectantly as you learn to live by faith.

“Whatever is not of faith,” the Bible says in Romans 14, “is sin.”

Because that’s true we need to talk tonight about how do we grow in our faith. In Luke 17:5 the apostle said to Jesus, “Lord increase our faith.” How do you do that? I’d like to have more faith. I know you’d like to have more faith. If that’s what pleases God then I want to have more of it. The question is how? If faith is what makes my life rewarding and fulfilling and confident how does God build my faith?

Let me ask you this: do you take vitamins for it? No. Is there some kind of therapy you go through to have your faith built? No. Is there some seminar that’s going to build your faith? No, not really.

Here’s the secret. And it’s not really something you’re real excited about when you first hear it. But the truth is God builds your faith and my faith by testing it. He builds our faith by putting it to the test, by trying it. Faith is like a muscle and when it’s stretched and it’s pulled then it develops. When you test your muscles against weights then your muscles develop. And your faith develops as it is tested.

You don’t develop your faith just setting on your blessed assurance in church. James 1:3 says this “The testing of your faith [circle this] develops perseverance [circle “develops perseverance”] so that you may be mature and complete.” He says the purpose of these tests is that our faith, our perseverance will grow and will be mature and complete.

Job says the same thing speaking from experience in Job 7:17-18 “What is man that You make so much of him and that You give him so much attention and that You examine him every morning and test him every moment.” Circle “test him.” Did you realize that God is testing you every moment of your life? In the Purpose Driven Life book I talk about how life is a test and it is temporary assignment and it’s a trust. These are the facts of life. Every moment of the day your faith is being tested. In fact all this past week it was tested and all this next week your faith is going to be tested.

Every day you have faith building opportunities. The problem is most of us don’t recognize them when they’re there. We flunk the test because we don’t even realize it is a test and that God is trying to help us grow.

So if God wants me to live by faith and if God builds my faith by testing it then the natural question is how does God do it?

I want to give you the four ways that God tests our faith so that you’ll be aware of them. Actually there are more than these but I just want to cover the most common. These are the four most common ways that God tests and builds our faith. You’ll probably get tested on every one of them this week. Count on it. In fact you’ll probably have them sometimes in a day.

1. God tests our faith through difficulties.

That’s trials, problems, pressures, tough circumstances. All the stresses of life. 1 Peter 1:6-7 “For a little while you have had to suffer great and all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” That’s a very powerful verse. The trials and the problems and the difficulties that come into your life come to test your faith and to prove your faith.

Nothing ever happens by accident in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. Everything is Father filtered. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that God plans all the bad things that happens to you. He doesn’t have to. We live in a broken world. A lot of problems we bring on ourselves and things like that. A lot of problems other people bring on us and we’re innocent victims.

What I am saying is that nothing comes into your life if you’re a child of God, nothing comes into your life without God’s permission. It couldn’t happen without God’s permission. There are no accidents in the Christian life. There are accidents in life. Of course there are. But God uses them and our disappointments are His appointments.

Sometimes God has to custom make a problem to teach you faith, to test you.

Jonah had a custom made problem. It just swallowed him up and got his attention. Sometimes God creates problems that swallow you up. You say, “There’s nothing else to look at except the Lord.” And I’m sure that’s the way Jonah felt. In fact in Jonah 2:7 the Bible says, “When I lost all I once again turned my thoughts to God.”

God uses these kinds of things to test our faith. Notice it says “all kinds.” If life were easy then it wouldn’t require any faith. If you could feel God all the time then you’d just go by your feelings. Sometimes God removes His feelings — the feelings of His presence — just so you learn to trust Him in the difficulties.

Here’s a great verse when you’re going through tough times. Isaiah 48:10 “I have refined you though not as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

What is the furnace of affliction? You’ve been there. It’s when the heat’s on. When the heat’s on it’s a real test. How are you doing in the furnace of affliction? Are you feeling the heat right now? Have you felt it this past week? Are you under pressure? Is it getting a little hot under the collar? The Bible frequently compares our problems and difficulties to a furnace. The furnace of a refiner’s fire who heats it up so high that the gold and silver melt and all the impurities are burned away.

I heard of an old silversmith who was once asked, “How do you know when the impurities are burned away in the silver?” He said, “When I can see my reflection in the silver.” When God can see His reflection in you then He knows that the impurities in your life have been burned away. That’s a test.

So what should I do when I’m going through difficulties? How should I respond?

The Bible tells us. When the problems come that God’s trying to test my faith James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” He says when you’ve got a problem relax. In fact he says, rejoice. Take it easy. Thank God. Praise God. Why? Because I know that God is with me. God has a plan for me. He has a purpose for my life and He’s going to help me through it. God’s purpose is greater than the pain or the problem or the difficulty I’m going through right now.

This is the first lesson. If I want to learn to live by faith I must learn to rejoice continually. James says “Consider it all joy when you go through problems.” Notice he doesn’t say be thankful for the problems. God doesn’t expect you to thank Him for bad things in your life. Like if you get cancer you don’t say “Thank You God, for this cancer.” Of course not. It says, be thankful in the problem.” I must learn to rejoice in the situation continually if I’m going to learn to live by faith.

I want you to evaluate yourself on each of these four tests of faith. From one to ten. How quickly do I praise God when things go wrong? If you say “never”, you rate yourself down at the bottom — “1” or “0”. If you say “Sometimes I thank God, I praise God in the problem,” you get a “5”. If you say, “I always do it. It’s my habit to continually rejoice when I’m dealing with a difficulty because I know God will help me.” You get a “10.”

The Bible says “Rejoice in the Lord always [That means all the time] And again I say rejoice,” because God uses difficulties. And He tests our faith and He builds it not in the easy times of life but in the difficult times.

Tom’s going to talk about the second test of faith.

Tom: Here’s the second test of faith.

2. God tests our faith through demands.

He asks us to do things that are seemingly impossible. There are, in just the New Testament, 1050 commands for believers to obey. Of all these commands, some of them seem unreasonable. Some of them seem inconvenient. Some of them seem down right impossible. So what do you do when you have an impossible command that feels like a demand?

They are there, you realize they are there to test our faith.

When you have a command and it seems like I can’t do that, the issue at that moment is, Who am I going to believe? Who is it I’m going to trust? Am I going to believe what God says to do or am I going to believe what I think is right to do? All of the promises, all of the commands are there to test us. Some of them may seem simple at first but when you look at them that is demanding.

A command like “Don’t worry about anything.” Anybody struggle with that one? That can be a tough one. Or a command like “Do good to your enemies. ” Or “Forgive other people.” Or “Be thankful in everything.”

Every time. Every time God gives us a command in the Bible it is a demand that is placed on our life and it’s a test. Like “Confess your faults to one another.” That’s a test. The test is am I going to trust what God says to do, what He says is right. Or am I going to trust my own opinion, what I think is right in my own eyes?

There are literally hundreds of examples in the Bible of people that God said, “Do this” and they trusted Him, they had faith, even though it didn’t make sense to them, even though it seemed impossible to them.

The people of Israel on their way from Egypt where they had been in captivity to the Promised Land. God put a demand on their life, something called manna. It was a command. Manna you might remember was the bread like substance that fell from the sky, flaky stuff. They had to go out each morning to gather enough to eat. God said here’s the command. All you can get is enough for that day.

Exodus 16:4 “The people are to go out each day and gather enough manna for that day. In that way I will test them [circle “test”] and see whether they will follow My instructions.” There were all kinds of reasons why that command didn’t make sense. “Just enough for today? Why can’t I gather enough for the week? It’d be more convenient that way. It’d be a better use of my time that way. Just enough for one day? What if I get sick tomorrow? What if I trip and hit my head on a rock and a snake bites me? There’s all kinds of reasons why I need at least two days worth, God.”

But that wasn’t the point. The point wasn’t does it make sense to you. The point was I want to test you so that you’ll trust Me in a day to day way. Follow My commands. I want to grow your faith. That was the point.

Often God asks us to do the impossible. Why? He wants to grow our faith.

A guy by the name of Abraham. You remember his story. He was seventy-five years old. He was about to hang it up and God said I want you to take it down. I want to take you out somewhere to make a difference in this world. I want you to go somewhere where you’ve never been, you don’t even know where you’re going. Abraham says, “Where exactly am I going?” God says, “I’ll tell you.” “How am I going to get there?” I’ll show you. “How will I know when I get there?” When you get there I’ll tell you that you’ve gotten there.

How would you do with a command like that? We might say, “God, could I Google that first? I’d like to check it out. I’d like to get on MapQuest and get a point by point direction. Then I’m ready to follow Your directions.”

Faith is often a risk. When it’s a risk it means you can’t understand it all in advance. Why would God do that? He’s not just interested in making us comfortable, helping us to see all the directions and points on the map. He’s wanting to test and grow our faith.

So the Bible says in Hebrews 11:8 “By faith Abraham obeyed and went.”

A guy by the name of Noah. God comes to Noah one day and says, “Noah, I’ve got a demand. I want you to build an ark.” Remember Noah lived in the middle of a desert. And God says I want you to build an ark because there’s going to be a flood. The Bible says that until that time it had never rained. Water came up from the ground, a mist. It had never rained. And God says, “Noah, I want you to build an ark because it’s going to rain.”

Would you build an ark in the middle of a desert when you’ve never seen rain and never seen a flood just because God says so? Noah did. The Bible says, “By faith Noah built an ark.”

God tests our faith. He does it through difficulties. But He also does it through demands. These demands that He make on our lives. I do it just because I trust Him.

What’s the lesson with this one? If I want to learn to live by faith I must learn to not only rejoice continually. I have to learn to obey immediately. Obey immediately. When God says it, I do it. Whether I understand it or not, I do it. Whether it makes sense to me or not, I do it. Because I know it’s what God has asked me to do. That’s the test of faith. When God tells you to do it in the Bible then you do it.

This is where you hear what God says to do — in the Bible. There’s a lot of people who want to speak for God. Have you noticed that? God’s voice in your life. No, you hear Him in the Bible. When God says to do it, you hear it clearly in the Bible then you act on it, you obey immediately.

How are you doing on that one — one to ten. Evaluate. Circle one. How quickly do you do what God tells you to do? That’s the question. Do you do it just when it’s convenient? Give yourself a “1”. Do you struggle with it maybe a while? Maybe quite a while and then do it? Give yourself a “5.” Too often I get a “5”. Or maybe you’re learning more and more to do it instantly, to do it unquestioningly. Then give yourself a “10.”

Rick’s going to join us with a third way God tests our faith.

Rick: God says He tests our faith first through difficulties. Second through demands.

3. God tests our faith with dollars.

I’m talking about money. Did you know that money is one of the greatest tests of faith in your life? Few people understand how God uses our material possessions as a test of character and a test of faith. For many people finances are the greatest of all. They have no idea that God is actually testing them when they get into debt. When they’re going through problems. When they’re asked to give. All of these things have to do with faith.

Luke 16:11 Jesus says this, “If you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealt, [That’s dollars, that’s money] who will trust you with true riches?”

What is Jesus talking about here? He’s giving a truth that’s taught all through scripture that there is a definite, direct relationship between how I handle my money and the spiritual depth in my life. There is a direct connection. In fact Jesus says if I’m not faithful in handling material wealth He will not trust me with spiritual wealth. If I’m not faithful with my possessions He will not trust me with spiritual power. Money is a test. I can check out my checkbook to find out how I’m doing.

The fact is what I do with my money really does determine how much God can bless my life. You may have never thought of it but it has a real impact on it. This is taught all through scripture. I have learned it after walking over forty years with the Lord that God determines how much He can bless my life by how faithful I am with what He’s put in my hands. Every time I set down and write out a check for my tithes — ten percent of my income — knowing that I could be using that money to pay bills, is that a test of faith? Of course it is.

In fact, it was a huge test of faith in the early years of our marriage when I had so little money and we were working on one income. I hadn’t written any books. Knowing that when I was writing that check, that ten percent could be used to pay bills. It was definitely testing my faith.

When I’m willing and ready and able to generously give the Lord knowing that this money could be spent for other things it is a test. Just like God uses difficulties and delays and demands He uses dollars.

I sat down this morning and I pulled out three testimonies and I nearly started crying. They were testimonies of sacrificial giving in the past in our church.

One family was selling their large home and moving into a smaller one so that they could help buy the land that we now set on. That’s what I call sacrifice.

I read about several families who were postponing or remodeling room editions in order to give to the current campaign.

I read about a lady who returned an expensive dress that she had bought for a party. She wore an older dress instead so she could give more money to help on the giving campaign.

I heard about a guy who gave up smoking. And on and on.

So many illustrations of this over the years. That motivates me. That moves me. These kinds of stories are stretching my faith. Yet there have been stories like that told for thousands of years.

All the way back in the New Testament Paul wrote this in 2 Corinthians 8:7-8 “…Excel in the grace of giving. I’m not commanding you but I want to test the sincerity of your love…” That could have been sincerity of faith too. But giving tests both our love and our faith. He says I want to test it by comparing it with your earnestness of others.

Did you know that Paul compared the giving of the Corinthians Christians with the giving of the Macedonian Christians? Then he challenged then. He said I want you to look and see what the Macedonians are doing. Look at their sacrifice. Look at what they’re giving to help the poor. Look at what they’re giving to serve the Lord.

This verse says that giving not only tests my faith it also tests the sincerity of my love. How much I really love God. Do you put your money where your mouth is? God challenges us to compare out sacrifices with others. If you’ve got a problem with that you’ve got a problem with the Bible. In fact, the only people that ever get upset about verses on giving is just people who don’t give. Givers don’t get upset about it.

You can’t ignore these verses. The fact is every time I give to God my faith grows. Every time I give it breaks the grip of materialism in my life. Every time I give I grow in love. I grow in hope. I grow in faith. I grow in maturity. It builds my life

In 1 Chronicles 29, that’s over in the Old Testament, the Bible tells us how David and the people of Israel raised the money to build the temple. In that one single offering they actually raised over four hundred million dollars in today’s terms — the most successful building campaign in history. When people say God doesn’t need a building they haven’t read 1 Chronicles 29. God told them to raise the money and they gave sacrificially.
29:14 David says this after they’ve all given as a test of their faith. He says, “Who am I, and who are my people that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You and we have given You what comes from Your hand. O Lord our God for all this abundance that we have provided for building You a temple for Your Holy Name, it comes from Your hand, and it all belongs to You. [In other words, it’s all God’s in the first place] I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things that I have given willingly with honest intent and now I see, with joy Your people who are here have given to You.”

David says in this passage that giving not only tests my faith, it not only tests my love, it is the test of my heart, the integrity of my heart. Is Jesus Christ the Lord of every area? God wants to be Lord of the difficulties. God wants to be Lord in the demands of life. God wants to be Lord in the dollars of life.

The lesson is if I want to grow in faith I not only have to rejoice continually, I have to obey immediately and I must give generously. That’s the third way that God tests our faith.

I want you to evaluate how much faith your giving reveals. Get gut level honest right now. If God looked at the giving that you give to Him would God say that you really trust Him? Or have you been afraid to do what His word says?

It’s interesting that in giving God not only tests our faith but the Bible says in Malachi that giving tests God. Malachi 3, God says, “’Test Me in this,’ says the Lord. ’Bring all your tithes into the storehouse [that’s the place you worship] and test Me in this. See if I will not provide for you, throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing that you won’t even be able to handle.’” In other words, I’m going to play a game with you. You give to Me and I give to you and we’ll see who wins.

Giving not only tests me, it actually tests God. I dare you to test God. I dare you to put Him to the test to see that He will keep His promises.

I have to say that personally I have grown more in faith in this single area than in any other area of my life. Yes, I’ve learned through difficulties. Yes, I’ve learned from obeying commands and demands that God said to do that didn’t make sense. I’ve learned to grow in faith in many other ways. But in this area of giving the most sensitive nerve in the human body goes from the wallet to the heart. And God says I want all of you. I want what it represents.

Tom’s going to come back and he’s going to give us the fourth test of faith.

Tom: Here’s the fourth test of faith.

4. God tests our faith through delays.

If every prayer were immediately answered, if your every need were automatically met, if every problem were instantly solved you wouldn’t need faith and your faith wouldn’t need to be stretched. But it is not that way. We have to wait on things. It is human nature that we hate to wait. I hate to wait. I hate it!

Do you do this? You’re driving up to a red light and there are two cars there one in each lane. As you’re driving up you’re figuring out, which one is going to get off faster. I’m going to get behind that one now. Do you do that? We hate to wait. We hate waiting lines. We hate traffic. We hate everything about waiting. Doctor’s offices. Yet a large percent of your life is spent waiting. If you and I can’t learn how God wants to stretch and grow our faith during times of waiting we miss out on much of the faith lessons that God wants to teach in our lives.

I was doing my devotions last week. The encyclopedia of how long things take. A lot of waiting is the little trivial things. So if you want some trivia for the day here is some definite trivia.

It takes six seconds to fold a terry cloth towel. Think of how much of your life you spend folding terrycloth towels.

It takes ten seconds for a slinky to tumble down a flight of stairs.

It takes ten minutes for a snowflake to form.

It takes one hour and forty-seven minutes to watch the movie Ishtar. Wasted minutes in your life.

It takes thirteen hours for weekly food preparation for the average American family.

It takes twenty-four hours for plaque to colonize on your teeth. Aren’t you glad to know that?

It takes eighty hours and forty-two minutes to complete the household tasks in a family who have children under twelve. No wonder you’re so tired.

It takes one week for bacon to loose its freshness in a refrigerator at thirty-two degrees.

This is profound life changing stuff. Wouldn’t you agree? These are the kinds of waiting things, the trivia of life, the irritations of life. Yes, God can grow us through those irritating times of waiting no doubt about it. But the times He really grows us through waiting is the times they’re life tests. Waiting for something you never wanted to wait for.

A good example of this again is the people of Israel in the Old Testament as they’re on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. Going from Egypt to the Promised Land — they could have made it – they could have traveled that distance in two or three weeks. But it ended up taking them forty years. Why all the wasted time? Because the Bible said God led them in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. Why all the wasted time? Because God was more interested in developing their faith than in getting them from point A to point B the most quick way, the fastest way. So it took forty years.

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 8:2 “God led you all the way in the desert these forty years to test you in order to know what was in your heart.” That’s what happens in times of waiting. We get to see God gets to see what is in our heart.

Do you ever find yourself in situations — I’ll bet we all have — where you feel like you’re in a hurry and you get the definite idea that God is not in a hurry. Anybody else feel that way? It happens all the time. Why does that happen? Because God is more interested in growing our faith than anything else.

So we start asking the ’when’ questions while we’re waiting. When is my marriage going to get better? When is it going to turn around? Or if you’re single, When am I going to find that right person and get married? Or, How long is it going to take until I get well? Or, When are we going to have a baby? Or, When am I going to find just the right job?

I’d say that it’s in this area, this area of waiting that God has worked to develop my faith more than any other area. He’s tested me again and again in this area of waiting and used it to develop my faith.

The most difficult time of waiting in our marriage was Chaundel and I waiting for children. We waited years longer than we wanted to wait to have children. In fact the doctors told us we weren’t going to be able to have kids. It was a tough time of waiting. Especially tough was right in the middle of all that Chaundel became pregnant but then had a miscarriage. It was what we thought was our only hope to ever have a child.

As tough as that time of waiting was did God develop our faith during that time that would have never been developed? Absolutely! Even with the difficulty of waiting God was developing our faith. God by His grace eventually did give us three children. That is simply by His grace. We look at our kids and say, Look at what God can do! That’s not what we think every time we look at our kids but most of the time we think, Look at what God can do. They’re almost grown now except for Luke who’s still in high school. It’s really incredible to see what God can do. Even as we wait.

Some of you are waiting on something right now. Maybe you’ve been waiting a long time. While you’re waiting God is there. He does not leave you alone. It just may be a test. Because God does use difficulties and demands. He uses dollars. But He also uses delays to build your faith.

Look at what God does, Isaiah 64:4 “God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” It pays to be patient. Just remember this: while you are waiting God is working. You’re not waiting alone. Waiting in faith God is working. God is doing things behind the scenes, in your heart and other people’s hearts that you cannot even see.

So what’s the lesson on this one, the faith lesson? If I really want to learn to live by faith I’ve got to learn to rejoice continually. I have to learn to obey immediately. I have to give generously. And then this one: I must learn to wait patiently.

If I’m really going to grow in faith I have to wait patiently. Because God is not going to snap His fingers and give instant answers to my every prayer. Why not? Because He wants you to grow in faith.

How are you doing on this one? If after the first few minutes or the first few months you find yourself giving up then give yourself a “1” on this one. “I don’t wait at all. I give up.” If you’re one of those people, you wait on God but you grumble and complain the whole time then you get a “2”. That’s all you get for the grumbling and complaining. But if you’re learning to keep on believing. You find yourself living expectantly in waiting on God, give yourself a “10.”

Before we end I want to look again at the verse at the beginning. Go back to the first question that Rick asked us, Do you really want God to increase your faith? The apostle said in Luke 17:5 “Lord increase our faith.” Are you willing to pray that very dangerous prayer “God, increase my faith.” If you are then let’s get practical about it. Which of these four areas that we talked about do you need to specifically pray for God to increase your faith?

Many of you need to pray, “God, I need You to increase my faith even through the difficulties of life, the struggles of life.” Maybe that’s the area God is working to increase your faith right now.

Some of you are going through incredibly tough times right now. You’re not alone. If you’re going through that kind of a time then you need to pray, “Father, help me to learn to rejoice continually because I know You’re in control. I know that I’m not alone. I know that You have a purpose and I know You will give me the strength to make it through.” So I’m going to rejoice continually not that this is happening but in this is happening because I know You’re with me.

Maybe God’s testing your faith right now through demands. Let me put that in another way. Let me put that as a question. What is it in your life that you know God has told you to do but you haven’t done it yet? That’s the place to put faith. Maybe it’s get in shape. Maybe it’s be baptized. Maybe it’s start reading the Bible. Maybe it’s to forgive a person you hold a grudge against. Maybe it’s something I haven’t mentioned but you know what it is. It’s in your heart right now. What is it that you know God has told you to do but you haven’t done it yet? And you pray, “Lord, help me to obey immediately. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today. Give me the faith to do that.”

Maybe God’s testing your faith through dollars. You can hardly make ends meet and Rick talks to us today about what the Bible teaches about tithing. Give ten percent of your income to God as a sign of your faith. You’re thinking, “But God! Don’t You know what I make?” And God would say, “Yeah, I know what you make. I know what everybody in the world makes. That’s not the point. That’s not the issue. The issue is your faith. I want to test your faith.” Why is it that God touches this sensitive financial nerve in our body? Why does He do that? Because He wants to see how we’ll react. When He touches it do we get mad? Do we run away? We get bitter? Do we get angry? Do we get afraid? Or do we turn to Him and in generosity give and say, “It all came from You in the first place.” Maybe that’s the test you’re facing right now. We’ve all faced that one.

Maybe you’re facing the test of a delay. What is it that you’ve been expecting God to do in your life and it just hasn’t happened yet? You’re thinking, God when? God, how long? God, why hasn’t it happened yet? God, why haven’t You answered my prayer? There’s this test of a delay.

God’s encouragement to you again and again in the Bible is, Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Look up to God. And realize that He is with you. As you and I wait on Him He not only increases our faith but He works out His plan. So pray, Lord, help me to wait patiently.

As we end I’d like to give you the chance to personally have a few minutes with God and talk to Him.

Prayer:

The question again is do you want to live by faith? Are you willing to pray? I want to encourage you to pray that dangerous prayer, Lord, increase my faith. It’s dangerous because the way God increases our faith is by testing our faith. All these ways we’ve talked about this morning and many others. But if you’re willing to pray with courage, that prayer, just say it to God right now. “Lord, increase my faith.”

You might need to pray specifically, “Father, by faith I’m going to begin rejoicing continually no matter what happens because I know that You’re in control.” Or you might need to pray, “Father, my faith, I’m going to begin obeying immediately. When I see something in your word, when I hear it in church, or a tape and You speak to me and touch my heart, I’m going to do it. I’m not going to procrastinate by faith I will act.” Maybe you need to pray, “Father, by faith I’m going to begin giving generously. I realize it all comes from You in the first place.” Or maybe your prayer needs to specifically be, “Father, by faith I’m going to begin waiting patiently. I don’t know when the answer is going to come. I don’t know when the miracle is going to happen, I don’t even know how You’re going to work it all out. But by faith I do know I can trust You. So by faith I’m going to begin waiting patiently.”

If you prayed that prayer of faith just now God’s smiling on you. Because the Bible says He is pleased whenever we trust Him. Without faith it is impossible to please God but by faith we please the heart of God. So today He’s smiling on you. And Father, together we thank You. We thank You for Your word that builds our faith. We thank You, Jesus, for Your unconditional love for us. Thank You that we do not have to earn Your love. That just in faith we can receive it. Lord, I pray that we would trust You to use these tests in our lives to make us more like You. We pray this together in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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