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The Stages of Faith - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
November 14, 2023 12:00 am

The Stages of Faith - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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November 14, 2023 12:00 am

Place your trust in the Lord and develop a strong, unshakable faith.

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In Touch
Charles Stanley
In Touch
Charles Stanley
In Touch
Charles Stanley

Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Tuesday, November 14th. Anxiety and worry do more damage than you imagine. Today let's continue to learn to trust God in spite of our fears. You're not a place I trust in Him to believe who He is and to believe that He will do exactly what He promises to do. Now the truth is the blessings that I receive from God, the blessing that you receive from Him will always be in proportion to, listen, in proportion to our faith in Him. That does not mean that God will not do some things oftentimes that you know I didn't expect, that we did not ask for because He will, that's His grace, His goodness and love and mercy. But so most of the time I think you and I can say that our blessings to be able to enjoy and to experience the best of God's blessings are going to be in proportion to my faith in Him, my trust in Him, my expectations of Him, my looking to Him and believing and longing for and expecting God to do what He promises to do. Therefore, what I certainly want to do is I want to increase in my faith because if the blessings increase in proportion to my faith, I certainly don't want a little bit of faith out here trying to live in this crazy world we have to live in with all the struggles and difficulties and hardships we face. We need faith that makes us strong to be able to face anything and everything and to come out looking as we ought and that is obedient to God and one who has received the best of God's blessings.

Well, what I want to talk about in this message is this. I want to give you three stages of faith. All of us, no matter what we ask of God, no matter how big or big the request is or how small, no matter sometimes how impossible it looks or how free it looks, we are all going to go through these three stages. Now, I want to repeat this. This does not mean that every time you have a request you say, oh, my goodness, I've got to go through three stages of faith.

No, that's not true. But sometimes you will start out on stage number one, sometimes stage number two. Once in a while you'll begin on stage number three. So I want to begin with this first stage and the first stage of our faith is little faith.

And I'm going to ask you to give it back to me in a moment. Little faith. And I think in terms of little faith as being restless faith. That is, there's something going on here. So I want to describe what little faith is about.

And then we'll give illustrations of each one of these. Little faith says, I know he can, but I'm not sure he's going to. Little faith is struggling faith. Little faith is focused on the object. Little faith is focused on the obstacle. Little faith is focused on the reasons this may not happen or cannot happen or will not happen. Faith that is little is usually greatly influenced by what it feels, what it sees, what it hears. Past guilt, false guilt. It's understanding of God.

It's lack of understanding. That is, little faith is greatly influenced, highly influenced by many things that will keep it small and little because the focus is not proper. So let's give some illustrations now of what little faith is all about. And you will notice here that Jesus identifies this as, for example, as little faith. Let's begin with Matthew chapter eight. Matthew chapter eight is a familiar passage of something that is going on here with the disciples. Beginning in verse twenty-three. So when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there rose a great storm in the sea so that the boat, listen to this, was covered with the waves, but he himself was asleep.

What happens? When they came to him, I awoke him and saying, Save us, Lord, not we may perish, but what? We are sinking, we are going down, we are perishing, we're about to lose our life.

This is present in stuff. This is a critical moment and you are asleep. Listen to what he said. He said to them, Why are you timid or fearful, you men of little faith? Then he arose and rebuked the winds in the sea, and it became perfectly calm. And the men marveled, saying, What kind of a man is this?

That even the winds in the sea obey him. What was the major problem? What was the biggest obstacle in their faith?

What was it? It was what they what? What they saw. What they saw was this ship is about to sink.

Now, I mean, human reasoning says, if this keeps up, we're going down. What they said was true, what they felt was legitimate, what they heard was legitimate, and more than likely, you see, if you're on board a ship and everybody else is saying we're going to sink after a while, you join in and you're thinking we're going to sink. I mean, even if one or two of those disciples had little faith and said, Well, Jesus on the back, they said, No, this thing is about to sink.

The waves are covering this boat. And their focus was on the storm and the waves, not Jesus. All right. Now, I want to look at another passage here because here's another example of the same kind of thing that's going on. And we hear Jesus again saying again, we hear him saying little faith. And go back to Matthew Chapter six for a moment. This is the Sermon on the Mount. And Jesus is talking here to the people and encouraging them. He knows that they are discouraged and and likewise, they are struggling in their faith. And I want you to notice what he says in this passage. Remember, he's talking here about why are they being anxious? He says in verse twenty five.

For this reason, I said to you, don't be anxious for your life, what you should eat, what you shall drink over your body, what you should put on. This is not your life more than food and the body than clothing. And then he says, now look at the birds of the air.

Your heavenly Father feeds them. They're worth, he says, you're worth much more than they are. He says, then look at the linens of the field. If God so raised the field like this and makes it so beautiful, he says, aren't you much more valuable than they? Then he says in verse thirty, look.

But if God so raised the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown to the furnace, will he not much more do so for you, old men of little faith? Now, where was their focus? Their focus was on what they didn't have.

Their focus was on their needs, clothing, food, a shelter, all the rest. He said, why are you anxious about these things? He said, look at the birds. The Father takes care of them. Look at the lillies. The Father is the one who raised the field with beauty. If he can do that for them, why can't he do the same thing for you?

He can. And so their focus is in the wrong direction. They had fear, fear of not having enough. And so he says, why are you so fearful, you of little faith? Then if you'll turn to the ninth chapter of Mark. And I want us to look at the passage here in verse twenty four and notice here what's happening.

Twenty fourth, the ninth chapter. And you recall that this father had brought his son possessed with a demon, a spirit, his disciples, and he said he's foaming in his mouth and all the rest. And he says, your disciples try to cast them out and they couldn't do it.

Now this man's desperate. Here's his son, demon possessed. And so he says in verse nineteen, he answered them and said, oh, unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you?

How long shall I put up with this? Bring him to me. Jesus is casting reflection on their unbelief. And so they brought the boy to him in verse twenty. And when he saw him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion right in front of everybody. And falling to the ground, he began rolling about and foaming at the mouth. And he asked his father, how long has this been happening to him? And he said, from childhood. And it has often thrown him into the fire, into the water to destroy him.

But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us. Here's a desperate father who sees his son almost at the point of death and wallowing in the mire here right in front of everybody, foaming at his mouth, demon possessed. And Jesus said to him, if you can, Jesus said to him, if you can, all things are possible to him who believes. Immediately the boy's father cried out and began saying, I do believe, help my unbelief.

Here's a perfect example now of restless, struggling faith. What does he see? He has his focus, his eyes on his son. This has been going on since he was a young boy. Struggling, foaming at the mouth, wallowing, cannot control himself, acting like an animal.

And so he says, now, if you can believe that I can heal this boy, I will heal him. So what's the biggest obstacle this father has to face? What's the biggest obstacle to his faith at this moment?

What is it? His biggest obstacle, number one, is what he sees. What's another one of his obstacles? The past. Exactly right. The past.

He's got all these remembrances. This has been going on for years and years and years, and everything looks hopeless. Little faith struggles. Little faith is wrenched. Little faith is thrown off base. You see, little faith is restless faith. With doubt, a continuous barrage of doubt, Satan will say, now look, look back in the past. Satan will always throw you into the past.

Satan will keep your mind off of God. And so when he comes to Jesus, here is a perfect example of genuine honesty. He says, I do believe, help my unbelief. He says, on the one hand, I'm trusting you. On the other hand, I'm having difficulty because this is my son.

This is the way he's been all of these years. And so little faith, he says, I want to believe. I'm having difficulty believing. I do believe. I don't believe. I do believe. I don't believe. Help me believe. Now, Jesus didn't say to that father, well, I'll tell you what, when you trust me, I'll heal him.

No, which underlines what I said twice already. Listen, struggling faith is not a sin. Struggling faith, listen, is part of the education. It's part of the process that when we struggle with our faith and we see God work, then what happens? As we move on from this stage of faith of struggling, restless faith, we move into the second level and something begins to happen in our life.

The first stage of our faith is what? Little faith. The first stage of faith is little faith, and that's what kind of faith? Restless faith.

Restless faith, struggling faith, all right? Which brings us to the second stage of faith, and that is great faith. Now, listen, little faith said I know he can, but I'm not sure he will.

I know it may happen, but I'm not certain it will. Great faith says I know he can and I know he will. Great faith says I know he can and I know he will. Great faith is focused on the father, not on the object. Great faith is entrenched in the Word of God. Great faith meditates upon the Word of God. Great faith is trusting in the promises of God. Great faith is trusting in the nature of God. Great faith is trusting in the character of God. Great faith is God-focused, father-focused.

Great faith desires to understand the ways of God. Great faith doesn't just ask with doubts and frustrations and anxieties. Great faith will endure no matter what. Great faith is not thrown off balance by questions and doubts and fears and the negatives of other people.

Great faith says I'm going to hold on. Great faith says I'm reaching out. Great faith reaches out to God, believing because of who he is and what he's promised he will do what he says. Great faith has learned to endure all the obstacles. Great faith is able to see beyond the visible to the invisible. Great faith is able to hear beyond human voices to hear the voice of God. Great faith is able to sense in his or her spirit what God is saying, even without anything audibly coming forth. Great faith is not focused on the past but on the forgiveness of God. Great faith is focused, listen, on the ways of God, on the very character of God. And so therefore, great faith can face difficulty, hardship, and trial, and no matter what, here's what faith says. Faith says, I know what you're saying. Faith says, I hear what you're saying. Faith says, I know what feelings are there. Faith says, I know what it looks like, but I'm trusting him. I'm going to believe him no matter what. Why? Because this is who he is.

This is what he said. And I'm going to believe him no matter what. Oftentimes, we come to big obstacles in our life, big challenges to our faith, and here's what happens. Because our feelings and our sight and because of what we hear are so overwhelming, we stop at the lowest level of little faith and we get defeated. I am fully persuaded that many of God's people could have more, could experience more, could understand more about the Father, would have a greater sense of peace and joy and contentment and happiness in their life if they move, got off of that lower level of struggling faith, little faith, restless faith, doubting faith, and begin to move to the second level. And that is the level, the stage of great faith. So when we look at great faith and we would all like to live there all the time, just saying, you know, here's what God says. I believe it.

We are moving on. And I can tell you this, that you can reach that stage in your life about many things and most things. Now, the truth is, listen, the longer you and I live, the greater our faith should be. And we talk about great faith, and oftentimes we don't even think about what that is, but great faith is just what I describe. It's the kind of faith that holds on. It's the kind of faith that's rightly focused. It's the kind of faith that's wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ. It's the kind of faith, listen, the life which revolves around the person of God, that's the person who's going to have great faith. You can't live in sin, disobey God, and have great faith because it's going to short-circuit your faith. It requires living obediently before Him. It doesn't mean you'll never sin, but it certainly means that your heart is bent toward Him. That's where you lean to.

That's what you desire to do. We all have our weaknesses, our frailties, and our failures, but that's where our heart is, and God honors the heart that is bent toward Him. Now, what about this great faith? Well, let's look at some examples of that.

Look, if you will, first of all, in Matthew chapter 8 again, and I want you to look in the beginning in verse 5, Matthew chapter 8 and verse 5. Now, again, don't put yourself in some position here where you say, well, now, yeah, but this is not the same incident. It doesn't make any difference what kind of situation you and I come to. The principle is the same.

It works. Look what happens, verse 5. And when he, that is, Jesus, had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him in treating him, and saying, Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering great pain. And he said to him, I'll come and heal him.

Listen to that. Your servant says, suffering, I'll come and heal him. And look at this. But the centurion answered and said, Lord, I'm not worthy of you to come under my roof. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed. Now, why did he say that?

Look at this. This was not speaking to some strange itinerant preacher. He said, for I, too, am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to this one, go. And he goes, and to another, come, and he comes. And to my slave, do this, and he does it. Now, when Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who were following, truly I say to you, I've not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.

Now, what's going on here? This man, listen, he has seen, he has observed, he's heard. He said, I, too, am a man under authority, which says he saw Jesus Christ for who he was, the Son of God under the authority of the Father. He says, I, too, am a man under authority. And I say to this servant, you go. And I say to this soldier here, you go.

They do exactly what I tell you. He said, now, all I want you to do is just say the word. I'd love for you to come home with me.

You don't even have to come home. All you have to do is say the word. Now, let me ask you a question. What was that man's focus on? What was he focused on?

His paralyzed servant, is that what he was focused on? What was he focused on? He was focused on Christ.

Because he says, I, too, am a man of authority. That is, he saw Jesus Christ for who he was. He was the Son of God. He was a man with awesome authority who could speak and something happened.

He'd heard, he had seen, he had watched things happen. He said, all I want you to do is just say the word and my servant will be healed. That is great faith.

Because what happens? He's over the struggle. Speak the word. I believe if you'll say it. Listen, if he'd had little faith, he'd have said, just please come home.

Let's hurry and get home to my servant. No, he said, you don't even have to go. Now, how's that for great faith?

You don't even have to go. All you have to do is say it. Now, listen, when you and I can reach the stage in our faith in any given circumstance in which we are faced and we're struggling and God lays upon our heart a passage of Scripture that relates directly or indirectly, the principle is there to whatever that need is, and God says, here's what I'll do. You and I can thank Him for His promise, claim that, and have what?

And have great faith. The Father has made this promise and if He's made the promise, I'm going to trust Him. It may not be exactly like I want it, I'm trusting Him. It may not be when I want it, I'm trusting Him. It may not be exactly the way I expected it, I'm trusting Him. Great faith says, if He says it, He will do it. Thank you for listening to part one of The Stages of Faith. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-14 03:04:36 / 2023-11-14 03:13:48 / 9

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