In the last session we looked at hope and faith, we’re going to continue now looking at faith.
The kind of faith that God is looking for is bold - not arrogant and rude - but confident.
Faith that is placed in the Lord, rather than in your own self, gives confidence.
It is often not lack of gifting or talent that holds us back, but often it’s actually a lack of confidence.
Many people do not succeed in a job interview situation because of lack of confidence rather than not being able to do the job.
My question to you today is: Where is your confidence? It would be great if we could all answer with: “My hope is in the Lord.”
Paul said in Philippians 3 that he has no confidence in his natural ability or his upbringing.
It takes confidence to do what God has called you to do, and requires sacrifice. God uses what you have even if it’s bread and a couple of fish.
Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
God wants us to put our trust in him, in the good times and the bad. Through the hard times and the happy times.
When times are good we find it easy to worship. It’s easy to come to church and meet others.
When we’re feeling rough, or find ourselves in a low place, it can be much harder to find the motivation to come to church. Especially if you attend one of the those faith filled churches where nobody ever admits they’re struggling in case people look down on them for being human!
Confidence causes us to praise and worship God like Abraham - confident the Lord would provide.
The very first time the word “worship” is used in Bible is in the account of Abraham and Isaac going to Mount Moriah. To fast-track the account, Abraham has been told by God to take his son, his only son to Mount Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice.
Abraham is poised to surrender the son he holds most dear, the Angel of the Lord holds back his hand and provides a ram as a sacrifice, exchanging its life for Isaac’s life.
Worship is connected with sacrifice. We as worshippers must be mindful that worship without sacrifice is just entertainment.
We are called to worship in spirit and in truth. That is why we fix our eyes on the Cross—the great sacrifice of your Saviour who exchanged His life for your freedom.
Our worship is not based on our situation, we know God is good and is welcoming us all the time, not just when we feel like it.
Worship pulls us out of our low times as we take our focus off ourselves, and put our focus on God.
Our doctrine in not based on circumstances, we know God is good and His goodness does not fluctuate when we are having a tough time.
Just like our worship is not self-satisfying, our faith is not based on our confidence in ourselves. Our faith is based on our trust in God.
Let’s look at some examples in the Bible.
Moses – Exodus 4
Then Moses answered, “What if the people of Israel do not believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
Exodus 4:1-2 NIV
40 years before Moses had tried to save Israel himself when he had killed the Egyptian slave master.
He was now living in Midian and God not spoken to him for over 40 years.
Moses’ confidence lay in himself - in his rod and his hand.
Where is your confidence? What is in your hand?
At this point God starts to move Moses from what he knows, into the realms of the unknown.
He held back from mentioning that Moses would be parting the Red Sea, feeding millions of people, and getting water from rocks!
In this chapter we see that God makes a point about the rod, the hand, and water into blood.
Putting confidence in what is in your hand - it may bite you. And putting confidence in your hand - it may wither.
Moses was called from an early age as a deliverer, but tried to make things happen on his own, and ended up killing someone.
God had a plan to save a nation not just one slave, but Moses was not ready.
God took him from the field into the palace knowing the great I AM.
Moses didn’t have a talent for speaking, but when he followed God’s instructions he had no trouble speaking! Aaron whom God sent with him didn't say a word!
Peter – John 21
After the resurrection, Jesus’ disciples are sitting around wondering what to do next.
Peter decided to go back to fishing, he went back to what he knew.
“At least I can fish” he thought.
When we feel our self-confidence is rocked, we can return to what we know.
At least I can fish.
Jesus wanted him to be more than a fisherman.
Jesus meets him and asks him "do you love me more than these?"
Simon Peter said, “I am going out to fish.” The others said, “We will go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat. They fished that night but caught nothing. Early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore, but the followers did not know it was Jesus. Then he said to them, “Friends, did you catch any fish?” They answered, “No.” He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they did, and they caught so many fish they could not pull the net back into the boat.
… Peter realises it is Jesus on the shore and jumps out of the boat to join him on the beach…
Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” I tell you the truth, when you were younger, you tied your own belt and went where you wanted. But when you are old, you will put out your hands and someone else will tie you and take you where you don’t want to go.”
John 21:3-15, 18 NCV
Peter went back to what he knew well, but it was not there, there were no fish despite his own efforts. He was stripped of all self-confidence
The impossible will never be achieved unless we are stripped of our self-confidence.
I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength. Philippians 4:12, 13 NCV
Paul said he has learned how to live with and how to live without He has learned to trust in God.
While in prison, Paul wrote that it didn't matter what his personal circumstances were. He had learned the secret of being happy at any time, in anything that happens.
God spoke to Paul and said before he went to Jerusalem that he would face prison.
The warning came but he said “I am going anyway”.
How far are we supposed to trust Him?
How far are we going to allow ourselves to fall before we try and save ourselves?
We see great examples of trust in the three friends of Daniel, and also in the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
Story of Daniel’s Friends
For most of us the fiery furnace and lions’ den is too far, waiting until we’re dead is too late.
Daniel’s friends had the attitude “whether God shows up or not - I will not bow”.
If you throw us into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from the furnace. He will save us from your power, O king. But even if God does not save us, we want you, O king, to know this: We will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Daniel 3:17-18 NCV
There is a deeper confidence that God wants to give us but he can't give us more because we still put our trust in things rather than in Him.
Story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus
Lazarus could have been healed four days before but Jesus waits until he is dead to arrive and heal him.
Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus only sleeps.
He said to his disciples that he is glad for their sakes they weren't there, because they are not ready for this test.
Mary and Martha were there and they saw his death and they lost their confidence.
When Jesus arrives after Lazarus has died, Martha tells him that if only he was there earlier Lazarus would not have died. She has faith for the past.
Mary wanted Jesus to answer in her timing, the longer the delay, the more faith it takes to hold steady. He boldly declares "I am the resurrection". He is saying that it is never too late.
In the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; Romans 4:17 NKJV
Martha responds that she believes in the end all things will be ok “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day”… Only at the last day. She has faith for the future.
Jesus said “You will see the glory of The Lord, only believe.” He is saying, have faith for today.
Often we want God to respond in our timing.
Jesus told them to roll away the stone, and Lazarus came forth, alive and well.
Trust me Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
John 11:40 NCV
Moses had to submit to God and allow God to take what he had to change a nation.
Peter, when things were not happening, returned to what he knew to do. But God took him from the multitude of fish to the multitude of people
David - 1 Samuel 17
We see in the Psalms that David learned to trust the Lord in private, while he was young.
Lord, you are my hope. Lord, I have trusted you since I was young. Psalms 71:5 NCV
David said to Saul, “Don’t let anyone be discouraged. I, your servant, will go and fight this Philistine!” Saul answered, “You can’t go out against this Philistine and fight him. You’re only a boy. Goliath has been a warrior since he was a young man.” But David said to Saul, “I, your servant, have been keeping my father’s sheep. When a lion or bear came and took a sheep from the flock, I would chase it. I would attack it and save the sheep from its mouth. When it attacked me, I caught it by its fur and hit it and killed it. I, your servant, have killed both a lion and a bear!
The Lord who saved me from a lion and a bear will save me from this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”
David said to him, “You come to me using a sword and two spears. But I come to you in the name of the Lord All-Powerful, the God of the armies of Israel!
1 Samuel 17
David knew from experience that God had delivered him time and time again.
He knew the source of his strength.
He knew his talent that God had given him. He was skilled in battle, but not in the way of Saul, the king.
He didn't operate in Saul's gift. He operated in his own gift. A gift submitted to God.
Moses learned in private to trust in God, his confidence grew as God dealt with him secretly.
Peter, when Jesus was arrested, three times denied Christ but he was restored there on the beach. Peter grew in private and God confirmed him in front of 3000 people.
David grew in confidence in the field with the lion and the bear. God confirmed him publically.
So my question to you today is: Where is your confidence?
“My hope is in the Lord.”