Be Determined in your Faith!
Matthew 9: 27-34; 10: 34-42
God calls us to be earnest, that is, to be pursuing a serious, deep rooted and determined faith. It is a call to persist in our faith and determination, regardless of obstacles-physical limitations, spiritual depression, spiritual warfare, or our circumstances. If everything came to us instantly, there would be no growth, no appreciation, no maturity, and no faith. Faith requires resistance and struggle to make it flourish and grow. God is not the One Who always holds us back; it is usually our refusal to reach out and seize the opportunity. It is we who refuse to exercise our faith and grow. It is we who speak just a simple prayer with no earnest thought behind it, with no zeal or realization of God's mercy and grace. We get so caught up in our own struggles that we do not look past the crowd to call His Name. We do not realize that He will stop, look, and listen-just for us!
· What we ask for in prayer is usually determined by our will and desires. Do not let it be; rather, be determined to seek His will by faith!
· When our eyes are on obstacles rather than on possibilities, on self and not on Christ, we may miss an opportunity as Christ walks on by, not responding because we do not have the faith to call out. We will miss His call, as our eyes are too preoccupied with the junk of life, or the busyness of our own will.
· What we seek can be wrong, and even be an insult to the One who created and loves us. We need to see with a vision that goes beyond our eyes, a vision of faith and determination, based on His Word and precepts rather than what we desire and think we need. Be the one who looks up and sees who the Lord really is, and be willing to call His Name. Be willing to surrender all to Him, as LORD!
· John tells us that He must increase and we must decrease (John 3:29-30). If we refuse this vital call, God just may allow those hardships to come our way, breaking us down so we will yield and grow as His child. Just as a good loving parent will discipline his child, God will discipline us. But, this is not a personal attack; rather it is a way we can grow and be better used by our Lord (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 1:27; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23-24; 1 Pet. 1:5).
· We have to be willing to be identified with Him no matter what the cost, as the rewards will be far greater than we could ever imagine! So, are you willing to reduce yourself to the real you? The person you are called by Jesus Christ to be so that He is greater in character and precepts in your trust and faith, and in your obedience and application of life? And, so you become less in your will, aspirations, lust, and sin? If not, what is in the way of God working in you?
· A step of faith is easy when we can see; but, in a storm, we usually cannot see. We cannot wait until it clears up; we have to step out and obey His precepts, regardless of the weather or what others say. Do not let doubt and fear adjoin to the storm. See Jesus cut across the storm, so you can see His hand (Matt. 14: 22-36)! We must obey with joy (John 2:5)!
1. Read John 3:29-30. What does God want you to do with this passage?
2. What do you need to do to initiate His increase and your decrease? What would that mean and/or look like?
3. Why is it hard to be willing to be identified with Him no matter what the cost?
4. What can you and your church do to help facilitate your yielding and growing as His child?
5. Are you willing to reduce yourself to the real you, called by Jesus Christ, "me"? If not, what is in the way?
6. What can you do to be more earnest, that is, to develop a more serious, deep-rooted and determined faith?
7. What can your church do, collectively, so to keep everyone's eyes on the possibilities and not the obstacles? (First, you may need to define what the obstacles are, and what the possibilities could be.)
8. What is the secret to remaining joyful in the face of adversity? What can you do to make sure this does not remain a secret?
9. How can Jesus' work, power, and purpose help you through desperate times of waiting, confusion, and hurt?
10. What can you do so that doubt and fear will not adjoin to the storms of your life, making them worse? How can you see more clearly that Jesus cuts across the storm?