How Can We know Our Faith is Ineffective
Really, this may be a good question for many people. You can say you have faith all day long, but do you?
Faith, is more than just saying ” Oh, I have faith for this, I have faith, for that but deep down… you are doubting all the way down to your toes….” Faith is More than just words, it’s more than doing something on your own because you do not have the patience to wait, many people in this world, are guilty of this, I used to be bad about it, because I had not yet learned what it was.
The good book says: Faith without works is dead…. without Faith we cannot please God!
BIBLE READING: Genesis 16:1-16
INEFFECTIVE FAITH ATTEMPTS TO ANTICIPATE GOD’S PLAN
Sarai took matters into her own hands by giving Hagar to Abram. Like Abram she had trouble believing God’s promise that was apparently directed specifically toward Abram and Sarai. Out of this lack of faith came a series of problems. This invariably happens when we take over for God, trying to make his promise come true through efforts that are not in line with his specific directions.
In this case, time was the greatest test of Abram and Sarai’s willingness to let God work in their lives. Sometimes we too must simply wait. When we ask God for something and have to wait, it is a temptation to take matters into our own hands and interfere with God’s plans.
BIBLE READING: Exodus 14:1-31
INEFFECTIVE FAITH IS MARKED BY A LACK OF TRUST IN GOD
Trapped against the sea, the Israelites faced the Egyptian army sweeping in for the kill. The Israelite’s thought they were doomed. After watching God’s powerful hand deliver them from Egypt, their only response was fear, whining, and despair. Where was their trust in God? Israel had to learn from repeated experience that God was able to provide for them. God has preserved these examples in the Bible so that we can learn to trust him the first time. By focusing on God’s faithfulness in the past we can face crises with confidence rather than with fear and complaining.
INEFFECTIVE FAITH IS MARKED BY AN UNCHANGED LIFE
God’s message hasn’t changed since the Old Testament-people will be judged for their unproductive lives. God calls us to be active in our obedience. John compared people who claim they believe in God but don’t live for him to unproductive trees that will be cut down. Just as a fruit tree is expected to bear fruit, God’s people should produce a crop of good deeds.
God has no use for people who call themselves Christians but do nothing about it. Like many people in John’s day who were God’s people in name only, we are of no value if we are Christians in name only. If others can’t see our faith in the way we treat them, we may not be God’s people at all. To be productive for God, we must obey his teachings, resist temptation, actively serve and help others, and share our faith. How productive are you for God?
BIBLE READING: 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
James 2: 14 Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone.
15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing,
16 and you say, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17 So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all—it is dead and useless.
18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” I say, “I can’t see your faith if you don’t have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds.”
INEFFECTIVE FAITH SELDOM GOES BEYOND WORDS
Some people talk a lot about faith, but that’s all it is-talk. They may know all the right words to say, but their lives don’t reflect God’s power. Paul says that the kingdom of God is to be lived, not just discussed. There is a big difference between knowing the right words and living them out. Don’t be content to have the right answers about Christ. Let your life show that God’s power is really working in you.
WEAK FAITH HOW CAN WE KNOW OUR FAITH IS WEAK?
1 Timothy 2:15 But women will be saved through childbearing and by continuing to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.
WEAK FAITH TENDS TO LACK ENDURANCE
Peter was not putting Jesus to the test, something we are told not to do (Matthew 4:7).
Instead he was the only one in the boat to react in faith. His impulsive request led him to experience a rather unusual demonstration of God’s power. Peter started to sink because he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the high waves around him. His faith wavered when he realized what he was doing. We may not walk on water, but we do walk through tough situations. If we focus on the waves of difficult circumstances around us without looking to Jesus for help, we too may despair and sink. To maintain your faith when situations are difficult, keep your eyes on Jesus’ power rather than on your inadequacies.
Romans 14:1 Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.
2 For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables.
3 Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them.
4 Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should.
WEAK FAITH OFTEN FALTERS
Although we start out with good intentions, sometimes our faith falters. This doesn’t necessarily mean we have failed. When Peter’s faith faltered, he reached out to Christ, the only one who could help. He was afraid, but he still looked to Christ.
When you are apprehensive about the troubles around you and doubt Christ’s presence or ability to help, you must remember that he is the only one who can really help.
BIBLE READING: Luke 24:1-12
Matthew 17:19 Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?”
20 “You didn’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
1 Corinthians 13:2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody.
1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong.
14 And everything you do must be done with love.
EVEN WEAK FAITH IS A PART OF THE PROCESS OF BELIEF
People who hear about the Resurrection for the first time may need time before they can comprehend this amazing story. Like the disciples, they may pass through four stages of belief.
At first, they may think it is a fairy tale, impossible to believe.
Like Peter, they may check out the facts but still be puzzled about what happened.
Then, as they commit themselves to Jesus and devote their lives to serving him, will they begin fully to understand the reality of his presence with them.
BIBLE READING: Mark 9:14-29,32
23 But if people have doubts about whether they should eat something, they shouldn’t eat it. They would be condemned for not acting in faith before God. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.
1 Timothy 3:9 They must be committed to the revealed truths of the Christian faith and must live with a clear conscience.
12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well.
13 Those who do well as deacons will be rewarded with respect from others and will have increased confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.
WEAK FAITH CAN BECOME STRONG FAITH WITH GOD’S HELP
The attitude of trust and confidence that the Bible calls belief or faith (Hebrews 11:1, 6) is not something we can obtain without help. Faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). No matter how much faith we have, we never reach the point of being self-sufficient. Faith is not stored away like money in the bank. Growing in faith is a constant process of daily renewing our trust in Jesus.
Titus 1: 1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to bring faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives.
2 This truth gives them the confidence of eternal life, which God promised them before the world began—and he cannot lie.
13 This is true. So rebuke them as sternly as necessary to make them strong in the faith.
14 They must stop listening to Jewish myths and the commands of people who have turned their backs on the truth.
1 Peter 5:9 Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
THOSE WITH WEAK FAITH NEED TO RECOGNIZE THEIR LIMITATIONS
Who is weak in faith and who is strong? We are all weak in some areas and strong in others. Our faith is strong if we can survive contact with sinners without falling into their patterns. It is weak if we must avoid certain activities, people, or places in order to protect our spiritual life. It is important to take a self-inventory in order to find out our strengths and weaknesses.
In areas of strength, we should not fear being defiled by the world; rather we should go and serve God. In areas of weakness, we need to be cautious. If we have a strong faith but shelter it, we are not doing Christ’s work in the world. If we have a weak faith but expose it, we are being extremely foolish. Whenever in doubt, we should ask, Can I do that without sinning? Can I influence others for good, rather than being influenced by them?
EFFECTIVE FAITH HOW CAN WE KNOW OUR FAITH IS EFFECTIVE?
BIBLE READING: Luke 17:1-10
Matthew 21:20 The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”
21 Then Jesus told them, “I assure you, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,’ and it will happen.
22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
James 5:15 And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
EFFECTIVE FAITH DEPENDS ON GOD
The disciples’ request was genuine; they wanted the faith necessary for radical forgiveness. But Jesus didn’t directly answer their question because the amount of faith is not as important as its genuineness.
What is faith?
It is total dependence on God and a willingness to do his will. Faith is not something we use to put on a show for others. It is complete and humble obedience to God’s will, readiness to do whatever he calls us to do. The amount of faith isn’t as important as the right kind of faith-faith in our all-powerful God.
Acts 4:16 So that’s why faith is the key! God’s promise is given to us as a free gift. And we are certain to receive it, whether or not we follow Jewish customs, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.
17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who brings into existence what didn’t exist before.
18 When God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, Abraham believed him. God had also said, “Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars,” even though such a promise seemed utterly impossible!
19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though he knew that he was too old to be a father at the age of one hundred and that Sarah, his wife, had never been able to have children.
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.
21 He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised.
22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God declared him to be righteous.
EFFECTIVE FAITH IS MORE CONCERNED WITH ITS LIFE THAN ITS SIZE
A mustard seed is small, but it is alive and growing. Like a tiny seed, a small amount of genuine faith in God will take root and grow. Almost invisible at first, it will begin to spread, first under the ground and then visibly. Although each change will be gradual and imperceptible, soon this faith will have produced major results that will uproot and destroy competing loyalties. We don’t need more faith; a tiny seed of faith is enough, if it is alive and growing.
Romans 5:2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
Matthew 8:10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all the land of Israel!”
Acts 20:21 I have had one message for Jews and Gentiles alike—the necessity of turning from sin and turning to God, and of faith in our Lord Jesus.
Romans 4:4 When people work, their wages are not a gift. Workers earn what they receive.
5 But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work.
1 Peter 1:7 These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
EFFECTIVE FAITH RESTS ON WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE
As Paul states clearly in 1 Corinthians 13:13, faith, hope, and love are at the heart of the Christian life. Our relationship with God begins with faith, which helps us realize that we are delivered from our past by Christ’s death. Hope grows as we learn all that God has in mind for us; it gives us the promise of the future. And God’s love fills our life and gives us the ability to reach out to others.
BIBLE READING: Hebrews 10:19-39
Luke 7:50 And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.“
Luke 22: 32 “But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers.”
Acts 3:16 The name of Jesus has healed this man—and you know how lame he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has caused this healing before your very eyes.
Acts 11:24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And large numbers of people were brought to the Lord.
Acts 24:24 A few days later Felix came with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus.
Romans 1: 5 Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.
Eph 4:5 There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.
7 However, he has given each one of us a special gift according to the generosity of Christ.
13 until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.
Eph 6:13 Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.
14 Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared.
16 In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.
17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.
23 May God give you peace, dear brothers and sisters, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:25 I am convinced of this, so I will continue with you so that you will grow and experience the joy of your faith.
26 Then when I return to you, you will have even more reason to boast about what Christ Jesus has done for me.
27 But whatever happens to me, you must live in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ, as citizens of heaven. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing side by side, fighting together for the Good News.
EFFECTIVE FAITH GROWS UNDER PRESSURE
Hebrews encourages believers to persevere in their Christian faith and conduct when facing persecution and pressure. We don’t usually think of suffering as good for us, but it can build our character and our patience. During times of great stress, we may feel God’s presence more clearly and find help from Christians we never thought would care. Knowing that Jesus is with us in our suffering and that he will return one day to put an end to all pain helps us grow in our faith and our relationship with him (see Romans 5:3-5).
James 2:1 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others?
2 For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes.
4 doesn’t this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives?
5 Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?
6 And yet, you insult the poor man! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court?
7 Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?
8 Yes indeed, it is good when you truly obey our Lord’s royal command found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
9 But if you pay special attention to the rich, you are committing a sin, for you are guilty of breaking that law.
Revelation 13:10 The people who are destined for prison will be arrested and taken away. Those who are destined for death will be killed. But do not be dismayed, for here is your opportunity to have endurance and faith.
EFFECTIVE FAITH BECOMES STRONGER THROUGH ENDURANCE
The writer encourages his readers not to abandon their faith in times of persecution, but to show by their endurance that their faith is real. Faith means resting in what Christ has done for us in the past, but it also means hoping for what he will do for us in the future (see Romans 8:12-25; Galatians 3:10-13).
BIBLE READING: Hebrews 11:1-40
Matthew 9:22 Jesus turned around and said to her, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
Romans 5:3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure.
4 And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.
5 And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Galatians 2:20 I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
21 I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 Dear brothers and sisters, we always thank God for you, as is right, for we are thankful that your faith is flourishing and you are all growing in love for each other.
4 We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.
Hebrew 6:12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and patience.
Hebrews 13:5 Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.”
6 That is why we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
James 1:3 For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.
5 If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.
6 But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
7 People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
8 They can’t make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do.
Revelation 14:12 Let this encourage God’s holy people to endure persecution patiently and remain firm to the end, obeying his commands and trusting in Jesus.
EFFECTIVE FAITH IS HOPEFUL ANTICIPATION
Do you remember how you felt when you were very young and your birthday approached? You were excited and anxious. You knew you would certainly receive gifts and other special treats. But some things would be a surprise. Birthdays combine assurance and anticipation, and so does faith! Faith is the conviction based on past experience that God’s new and fresh surprises will surely be ours.
Matthew 9:28 They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, “Do you believe I can make you see?” “Yes, Lord,” they told him, “we do.”
29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.”
Acts 14:9 He was listening as Paul preached, and Paul noticed him and realized he had faith to be healed.
10 So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.
22 where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that they must enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations.
27 Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported about their trip, telling all that God had done and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too.
2 Corinthians 4:13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, and so I speak.”
14 We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you.
15 All of these things are for your benefit. And as God’s grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are* being renewed every day.
17 For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever!
18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 As we talk to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and your continual anticipation of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:20 But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith. And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit.
21 Live in such a way that God’s love can bless you as you wait for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you.
22 Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.
EFFECTIVE FAITH IS QUIET CERTAINTY
Two words describe faith: sure and certain. These two qualities need a secure beginning and ending point. The beginning point of faith is believing in God’s character-he is who he says. The end point is believing in God’s promises-he will do what he says. When we believe that God will fulfill his promises even though we don’t see those promises materializing yet, we demonstrate true faith (see John 20:24-31).
Mark 11:22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God.”
23 I assure you that you can say to this mountain, ‘May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,’ and your command will be obeyed. All that’s required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart.
24 Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.
25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
Acts 6:5 This idea pleased the whole group, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (a Gentile convert to the Jewish faith, who had now become a Christian).
Acts 15:9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he also cleansed their hearts through faith.
Acts 16: 5 So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew daily in numbers.
2 Corinthians 1:24 But that does not mean we want to tell you exactly how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy as you stand firm in your faith.
2 Corinthians 5:7 That is why we live by believing and not by seeing.
Galatians 3: 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ.
9 And so it is: All who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.
11 Consequently, it is clear that no one can ever be right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
12 How different from this way of faith is the way of law, which says, “If you wish to find life by obeying the law, you must obey all of its commands.”
14 Through the work of Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, and we Christians receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.
18 For if the inheritance could be received only by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God gave it to Abraham as a promise.
22 But the Scriptures have declared that we are all prisoners of sin, so the only way to receive God’s promise is to believe in Jesus Christ.
23 Until faith in Christ was shown to us as the way of becoming right with God, we were guarded by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until we could put our faith in the coming Savior.
Colossians 1:23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed by God to proclaim it.
Colossians 2:5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I am very happy because you are living as you should and because of your strong faith in Christ.