Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Faith is Action

This is part  two of “Praying in Faith.”

A couple of weeks ago I posted on faith.  In that post, I said simple human faith is found in the phrase, “Seeing is believing.”  In other words, I’ll believe it when I see it.  I also said that REAL faith is found in the phrase, “Believing is seeing,” or I see it because I believe it.  But that’s not the whole concept. 

There’s another component that’s also very important, that’s embodied in this phrase, “Faith is action.”  So, what I want to post today, is part two, of that post:  Faith is Action.

Acts 14:7-10 (NKJV)
14:7 And they were preaching the gospel there. 8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother's womb, who had never walked. 9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" And he leaped and walked.

Going Beyond Seeing is Believing

I want to start by refreshing your memory:

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)
11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I talked about this in the context of the woman with the issue of blood.  She’d been afflicted for twelve years.  She’d spent all her money on doctors.  She’d been hoping for a cure, thinking, “I will be cured when the symptoms disappear.”  This is how most of us are – We have to see it in order to believe it. 

Then the woman sought out Jesus and found Him in a multitude.  She KNEW that she would be healed, if she could just touch the hem of His garment and she took the action necessary to see that done.  Jesus then told her, “Your faith has made you well.”  Where was her faith found?  It was found in the action.  That action of faith was the thing that made the healing that she had been hoping for real.  Those things that are hoped for become real when we act as if they are.  That brings us to our text.

Here is a man in Lystra, who has been crippled for his entire life.  Paul comes across him as he’s preaching in that city.  Paul sees the man listening, sees that he has the faith to be healed and says to him, “Stand up straight on your feet!”  The man leaps to his feet and walks!

Let’s look at what happened here.  The man is sitting there; this is what he’s always done.  He’s been like this his whole life.  He hears the Gospel and he believes.  Now, this is where it gets interesting.  Paul tells him to stand up on his feet.  At this moment, from the man’s perspective, nothing has changed.  He hasn’t seen any change take place in his legs.  He hasn’t walked a step, yet.  He’s still the same as when he sat down, except that now he has faith, and in that faith, without seeing – He leaps up!  Suddenly, that healing becomes real.

All of us that are Christians have faith.  We have the faith to be healed – The problem is that we don’t act as if we are already healed.  There was no apparent evidence that the man was healed before he leaped up.  He just believed it and acted as if it was true, and it became real.  Faith is found in action.

The woman with the issue of blood is the same thing:

Mark 5:25-28 (NKJV)
5:25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, "If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well."

For twelve years she suffered.  She went to doctors – The Bible says she suffered many things.  She wasn’t getting better, in fact she was getting worse, but she knew that if she could just touch Jesus’ clothes that she would be well.  She believed.  She had faith, and so having faith that this would heal her she did it:

Luke 8:44b (NKJV)
8:44b And immediately her flow of blood stopped.

She wasn’t getting better as she got closer.  She wasn’t hoping that touching His clothes would heal her.  She believed, and took action in that belief:

Luke 8:48 (NKJV)
8:48 And He said to her, "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace."

Faith is found in action:  Faith IS action

Contrasting Real Faith with Just Believing

I wonder how many of you really believe the promises that are written out for you in the Bible.  Promises like this:

Malachi 3:10 (NKJV)
3:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.

God promises blessing when we bring our tithes.  How many of you are willing to put that into action?  The man from Lystra heard the promises in Paul’s preaching and had the faith to leap up, even though there was no visual evidence that anything would change.  Do you have that kind of faith when it comes to tithing?

What about this promise:

Mark 16:17-18 (NKJV)
16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

God promises that when hands are laid on the sick they will recover.  How many believe that’s true?  So, who has the faith to lay hands on the sick?  Who has the faith to be well when hands are laid on you?  The man in Lystra and the woman with the issue of blood did.

I want to show you the difference between believing wholeheartedly and Faith:

Mark 4:36-38 (NKJV)
4:36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"

So, here we have the disciples riding with Jesus across the sea.  A storm comes up.  The boat starts taking on water.  These men are experienced fisherman – They have seen storms before.  This is nothing new for them. 

They know Jesus.  They’ve seen the miracles and the power.  They know who He is.  They’ve followed Him.  They believe in Him, wholeheartedly.  They had to know that is wasn’t His destiny to drown in the sea.  So, why was there so much fear?  Jesus even asks them, “How is it that you have no faith?”  We know that they believe, but we don’t see the actions of faith.  If they had faith they wouldn’t have woken him up.

Now, I want to show you someone who has faith:

1 Samuel 14:6 (NKJV)
14:6 Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few."

Here’s the story:  Israel is facing the Philistines, once again.  Only Jonathan and Saul have real weapons – swords and armor.  Jonathan believes the statement, “Nothing can restrain God from saving by many or saving by few.”  He believes that, wholeheartedly.  He speaks that to his armor bearer.  Remember, in my last post, “The Rabshakeh” I wrote that words have power.  The Rabshakeh used them to deceive, discourage and demoralize.  In this case, Jonathan uses them to incite faith in his armor bearer. 

Jonathan put that belief into action – Faith is action.  Right then, he went from believing to faith:

1 Samuel 14:15-16 (NKJV)
14:15 And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling. 16 Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there.

God moved.  Jonathan’s action of faith activated a move of God.  The man from Lystra was healed as he leaped.  The woman with the issue of blood was healed as she touched Jesus’ clothes.  The Philistines were defeated as Jonathan moved up.  God will move as YOU take an action of faith.

Most of us are like the disciples in the storm.  We believe – but in the storms of life we allow unbelief to creep in.  Not completely; we don’t stop believing in God:  We just forget that a move of God is activated by our own movement; the movement of our faith.

How to Put Faith into Action

So, how can you turn faith like Jonathan’s loose in your life?  Jesus tells us how to put faith into action in Mark 11:

Mark 11:22-23 (NKJV)
11:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

So, there it is – “Whoever says…”  Stop and listen to yourself sometime.  How many times do you speak in unbelief?  When we get healed we act as if it’s temporary.  “It doesn’t hurt right now… at this moment; I believe that it’ll be back later, though.    Stand up straight on your feet!  How many times have I heard that? – “I would if I could.”  Here I sit, in this wheelchair.

The point here is that you have to begin by changing the way that you think about faith.  You have to begin by speaking I faith.  We say things like “God WILL help us.”  “God WILL change our circumstances.”  That’s not speaking in faith, though.  It’s speaking in hope.  Faith says, “I’ll receive it right now.”

1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)
2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed.

This is a really interesting scripture.  It doesn’t say by His stripes you WILL get healed.  It’s not future tense.  It says by His stripes you WERE healed.  This is Past Tense, as if it has already happened.  So, we are already healed – Why aren’t we living that?  Why aren’t we speaking that?  Faith is right now!  It’s already happened.  If we think and act like that then it will be so.  Jonathan says, “He can heal by many or by few.”  He didn’t say maybe He can.  He said nothing restrains Him.  There is no roadblock to a move of God if you have faith.  Often, we are the roadblock.

Begin to speak and think in faith.  The actions will follow.  God blesses when we give.  God heals when we lay hands.  It doesn’t matter what we see… It matters what we do!

Editor’s note:  I preached this sermon in my church, recently.  At the conclusion of the sermon, I stood up out of my wheelchair.”

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