October 2, 2016
Text: Habakkuk 1:1-4;2:1-4
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Lord- Increase Our FaithOne day, the disciples made a commendable request of Jesus: “increase our faith” they said. I’mnot sure what prompted them to make that request. But Jesus answered them by telling them thatwith faith- the possibilities are endless-if- that is, the object of our faith is God- because withGod, anything is possible. He then went on to point out that a slave or bond servant does whatthey do to serve their master and not for their own gain or good. As Christians, serving Christ isour purpose and a joy. If that is the case- may we all ask Jesus: “increase our faith!” Comeawake, come awake- He is risen from the grave!PrayWhat is faith? First of all, the bible tells us that faith does not come from looking inward likeeastern religions promote- after all- our fallen nature was what got us into trouble in the firstplace. Nor does faith come from exercising will power or positive thinking. Faith comes bylooking to Jesus and placing our trust in Him. Faith is a gift from God- and comes from trusting afaithful God.A toddler who is fearful, for instance, is fearful because they are lacking courage of their own,But they know they can put their trust in their parent who are able and willing to take care ofthem.That is why the people cited in Hebrews 11 could have faith in God to do what he promised intheir weakness- even if they couldn’t see it with their eyes. They trusted God to be faithful.Secondly, the bible says that if we ask with faith- for anything in Jesus name, we will receive it-but we must ask in Jesus name and not ours. That means that we are asking to have the wisdomto know God’s will- and then to have the boldness and strength to do it.Jesus used the analogy of a mustard seed- the smallest of seeds. “to have faith- that is all youneed” He said. A seed is a marvelous thing if you think about it. Within a seed- no matter howlarge or small it is, each seed contains within it all the possibilities of what it can be- and to havethat happen, it only needs to grow and develop.Agronomists and geneticist tell us that seed corn in the bag has 100% potential for 300-500bushel an acre. Once in a while, contest winners achieve those yields, but they are the exception,not the rule. So why don’t we all raise 500 bu/acre corn all the time, every time? The reason is-the moment you place it in the ground, that potential immediately begins to go down because ofthe environment- weather, fertility, drainage, weeds, and insect challenges and the like.We cannot make plants grow- only God can give plants life and the ability to grow. In the sameway, we cannot make our faith grow- and only God can give the growth of our faith. But it is our
responsibility to be care takers of what has been entrusted to us by placing plants and our faith inthe best possible environment to grow.What might that be for our faith? You know the answer. The first thing is to turn to Jesus andbegin to know Him more and more each day. Immerse your heart and soul in God’s word-commit it to heart- meditate on it, seek fellowship- share your faith with others.Paul, writing to Timothy, was an encourager and mentor to him in his faith. Their relationshipwas a model of what our relationship with Jesus is meant to be. His love for him was neverquestioned. Their friendship and respect for each other was mutual. No matter where we are inour faith journey- we all have something to share that can be learned.“I long to see you” he says: “I am reminded of your sincere faith- a faith that lived first in yourgrandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. Timothy’s faith had been learned and modeled fromand by his mother- whose faith was learned and modeled by her mother. All of us here havesimilar stories of growing up in Christian homes- of not only hearing the gospel- but seeing itlived out in the difficult times as well as the good. You need both working together- like a teamof horses pulling as one. Faith lived out faithfully in the trenches always speak louder thanwords. The old adage that: “faith is more often caught than taught.” is true.Paul goes on to tell Timothy: “Rekindle the gift that is within you. In other words, put it topractice and use it. An athlete with great athletic ability will not excel or reach their full potentialif they do not develop it through practice. Paul used the analogy of a disciplined athlete manytimes- running the race, being so committed to running toward the upward call that he waswilling to discard anything that would hinder him from doing his best.Do you know what gifts God has given you? Knowing what your gifts are is not a prideful thing-but a humble recognition that it is a gift from God. Whatever we have been given- whoever weare- the gifts we have been entrusted with are for God’s glory and not ours.God did not give us a spirit of cowardice (or timidity- as the RSV puts it)- but a spirit of love andof self-discipline. How many of us have thought of a spirit of love being bold and strong? But itis. The love that Jesus showed us on the cross was not weak or timid. “I lay my life down by myown will” Jesus said- it was not the nails that kept him on the cross- it was His love for us thatkept Him there.“Do not be ashamed of the Lord- or me” Paul wrote from prison- “but join me in suffering forthe gospel- relying on the power of God.” Why would anyone be ashamed of the gospel or theactions of someone you know who have been persecuted because of their faith? Some of youperhaps have heard Dave Ramsey on the radio or read one of his books. He teaches biblicalprinciples of how to manage your money. I have often heard him say the reason people get intofinancial trouble is because: “too many people spend money they don’t have- to impress peoplethey don’t like.” Why would we do that?Because we want to be accepted by people- even people we don’t know and have differentvalues than we do. Why would we ever be ashamed of Jesus or the gospel? Countless men and
women down through the ages have willingly died for Jesus and the gospel. It certainly was notso that they would be accepted or popular. They died because they were not accepted or popular.Most of the disciples died martyrs- willingly laying down their lives for Jesus and the gospel.But on the day they watched their Lord dying in agony on the cross, I don’t think that made themwant to die in the same way. Later they would hide together behind closed doors, afraid theauthorities would drag them out and kill them because they were known to be followers of Jesus.No- it was the empty tomb- it was the presence of the risen savior that gave them faith andcourage and boldness through the Holy Spirit living within them. That is what Thomas wanted-to experience the presence of the risen savior. Living by faith in the risen savior is what gives usassurance and peace to know that no matter what may happen to us- even if we were to die inJesus name- everything will be okay- because Jesus has risen from the dead and we too will livewith him forever.We sing: “I surrender all” in the safety of a church building surrounded by friends and fellowbelievers. But when our faith is tested in the crucible of trials- when our life or the life of a lovedone is on the line due to illness- when all our earthly possessions have gone up in flames or beenswept away by floods-and if our very lives are at stake because of the witness of our faith-if whatwe call faith is only positive thinking or personal will power- then it will surely crumble like ahouse built upon the sand. But if our faith is built upon knowing the one who is king of kings andLord of Lords- then we can have peace in the midst of the storm, and the assurance to trust himeven if everything is take from us here on earth.“I am not ashamed of the gospel” Paul wrote to the Romans: “it is the power of God that bringssalvation to everyone who believes.”Where are you today? May we ask Jesus to increase our faith.Are you ashamed of the past? Lord, increase our faith.Are you apathetic to the life given you? Lord increase our faith.Are you scared of what God wants from you? Lord increase our faith.Are you drowning in your poor choices? Lord increase our faith.Are you alone in your journey? Lord, increase our faith.Are you hiding from the truth” Lord, increase our faithAre you shackled by your sin? Lord, increase our faith.Come awake and put your trust in the risen savior who has given us life and growth. In Jesusname, Amen.