"Lord, Increase our Faith"
This year at our congregation we are focusing on the theme, "Lord, Increase Our Faith," which comes from Luke 17:5.
And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.
Yesterday, I shared 3 simple points during the sermon about increasing our faith. There are several passages in Scripture about our faith growing. It's not like God gave you a 10 pound bag of faith when you became a Christian and said, "This is your lifetime allotment."
#1. Our faith is constantly challenged.
I'm not trying to be negative and pessimistic, but it just the reality we are going to face some really tough things in life. Whether we are pagans or believers we will go through dark valleys. Even more so for the Christian, though, because the devil is coming at us with great wrath (Revelation 12:12; 2 Timothy 3:12).
Our faith, in order to grow, will do so through adversity. Look at the above passage in Luke 17. Jesus was talking about relationships, pain, and forgiveness. The disciples realized how difficult His instructions were to follow, and they knew that their faith needed to grow to meet the challenge.
Another example is of the man whose son was demon possessed in Mark 9. The disciples could not cast it out because of a lack of faith and a lack of prayer (Mark 9:19,29). When Jesus came to the father, he told the father that all things were possible if he believed. Here is the father's response:
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!"
I think we can relate with that. In the midst of the trial our faith is revealed and tested, and we see our need for growth and our great desire to draw closer to Jesus.
#2. Our faith, with God's help will rise to meet the challenge/trial.
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
(2 Thessalonians 1:3-4)
The brethren at Thessalonica were bragged about by Paul everywhere he went, but why? Because of their faith! But notice the faith they had was in the midst of "persecutions and...afflictions" they were enduring. We also see in this passage that during those hardships their faith was "growing abundantly." Their faith was growing to meet the trials at hand.
#3. Jesus, His word, and His people help to increase that faith.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith...
Our brothers and sisters
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Do you see that in order to grow our faith we need all the above? It's the stuff preachers and grandmas have been telling us our whole lives, and when we find ourselves falling and stumbling it is because we are forgetting these three things. The Word creates and builds faith, the brethren encourage us and strengthen our faith, and Jesus perfects it.
"Lord, increase our faith."