Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas
Every day we have a choice to either trust in God or to be overwhelmed with our circumstances. All through the day we can either believe that God is in control, believe that he is taking care of us, believe that God’s promises will fulfill in our life or we can go ahead and keep on worrying, expecting the worst, and even wonder if we are going ever to make it in life. I hear people say I am afraid I am going to lose my job. I am afraid that this marriage is not going to last. I am afraid about the future of my children. What they do not realize is that they are choosing fear instead of faith and very soon it will be a reality.
This morning we are going to see how we can operate in faith in our lives.
One thing we must understand is that fear and faith have something in common. They both ask us to believe something is going to happen that we cannot see. Fear says believe the negative, faith says believe the positive. Fear says that pain that you are having is probably fatal. Faith says that sickness is not permanent, God will heal me. Fear says the economy is slow; so you are going to be effected. Faith says, “My God shall provide all my needs in Christ Jesus.” Fear says you are having a lot of problems; you are never going to be happy. Faith says greater days are still ahead in front of you. Here is the key, what we meditate on is what is going to take root in our life. We go around all day thinking about that fear and we think about it again and again, it will become a reality. So choose faith instead of fear. This is exactly what God says throughout the Bible: Do no be afraid, be bold and courageous, do not be afraid of the vast army.
Choosing faith is not all that easy as it sounds. When faced with realities of life fear can easily grip our soul. So how do we choose faith?
HOW DO WE CHOOSE FAITH?
1. BE DISCIPLINED IN YOUR THOUGHT LIFE.
Philippians 4:6-7 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So the bible is telling us, do not be anxious, take control of your thoughts, and do not let your thoughts go wild. Let the peace of God guard your heart and mind.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
AMP Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.
In simple terms if you allow that fear to grip your heart and mind, your life will be affected. Let faith come into your thinking.
See what Job said: Job 3:25-26 25 What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. 26 I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.
Job had a problem; when everything was going good, he was afraid and worried all the time. He worried about everything including his children. He was afraid they would sin and curse God; he offered sacrifices all the time because of his fear. The result of Job’s fear was that what he feared came upon him.
Fear gives the enemy permission to attack us, because we doubted God’s promises and walked in unbelief. Remember, God cannot work in our doubt and unbelief. God only works through our faith.
Illustration: There was a time in our ministry where we felt that our time in the previous church building was over and it was time God was leading us outside. We were worshipping in a facility absolutely free of rent at that point in time and to search a place for worship in this area was a big challenge. Every morning when I woke up the first thought that came into my mind is that this is not going to work out. It is going to cause a lot of heartache, you might well be defeated. I would go to all of this area like a mad man looking for a place and everyday I would come rejected, afraid about the future, and discouraged.
That is the way fear works, it will try to dominate your thought life. If you allow it fear will keep you awake at night. Fear will steal your joy. Fear will steal your enthusiasm. I was so tempted to be worried, go around with that sorrow in me.
But one day a Godly thought came into me, “Shine, if you worry about this and if you keep worrying about all the reasons why it is not going to work out then because of your worry you are allowing that to come to pass. But if you trust God and use that same energy to believe instead of worry then God will turn it around and cause it to work out to your advantage.” Soon I got a new perspective. I realized that worry, fear, wrong thinking does not just remain in our thoughts, it allows the negative to come to pass. I made a decision from that day that I am not going to worry about it any more. When I was tending to get discouraged I used that thought as a reminder saying, “God was in control and God is doing something amazing that I cannot see and when His time is right, he will present it to me.” The result of trusting God is this sanctuary that God has provided us with.
Today we have so many opportunities to worry and live in fear. People are worried about the economy, about health, about the ministry, children, spouse etc. God is saying to you what he said to me. Do not use your energy to worry, use your energy to believe. It is the same amount of energy used to believe as it is to worry. It is just that we covert our negative thoughts into positive and trust in God. Every time we are worried and fearful, God is telling us, “Trust me, believe in me, stay hopeful; I will bring you out better than you are now.”
Let me ask you today. Are you using your energy to believe or are you using your energy to worry? Are you expecting God’s favor or are you expecting to barely live? Is your mind full of faith or is it full of worry?
In Matthew 9 as Jesus was walking out of his own town two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” Matthew 9:28-29 28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; and their sight was restored.
They blind men had all the reasons to keep away from Jesus. They were first ignored by Jesus, they had to take people’s help to get to the house where Jesus was now but deep within they had great faith. If you can just believe that we are serving a great God and he can take you out of your situation, the Word says, “according to your faith it will be done to you.” So use your energy to trust God, not to believe in your fears.
Joke: I heard a funny incident where young woman went to the supermarket and got some groceries. On the way back to the car she saw some gunmen walking around suspiciously. She kept the luggage at the back of the car and put some behind her seat and was leaning forward to take the water bottle. Suddenly, she heard a loud noise and felt something hit the back of her head. She thought she had been shot. She reached up and felt something what she thought was her brains come out. She initially passed out; she woke up a few minutes later and sat there motionless for quite sometime holding the back of her head. A man passed by and noticed something was wrong and things scattered in the car, called the police. The police came and asked her to open her car door. She said she could not, she had been shot and she was holding her brains in. The police broke open the window and they discovered a soda bottle cover had exploded and in the process it broke open a biscuit cover. The dove of the biscuit and the cap of the bottle had hit the back of her head and she thought she was holding her brains.
Do not let you imagination run wild in the wrong direction. Use your energy to think in faith, not worry.
What if you are in faith and see defeat? You can still trust God because he is in control over everything, if one door closes he can open another door. So do not let that fear grip you. Today, you maybe in defeat but let your hearts soar with great expectations of faith in the Lord.
Well once we get our thoughts controlled, it is important that we reciprocate it in our actions.
2. ACT BY FAITH, NOT IN FEAR.
We are called believers, people of faith; but many times our actions are an expression of fear.
Abraham believed and followed God but he never got a child that God promised him. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months turned into years. It has been 10 years after God promised Abraham and still no sign of a child in his life. He found no answer to his prayer and obedience to God. On one side time seems to be running out for a child on the other side God is silent.
What would you do where God has promised you something and you have done everything from your side to claim that promise, but there is no sign of God’s work in your life?
Let’s see what Abraham did. Genesis 16:1-2 1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said.
Sarai loved Abraham and knew he longed for a child. She decided to make a sacrifice no women would make. She responds with an idea, an idea not from prayer or faith but her own. Fear would have gripped their thoughts because Sara was old; her childbearing capacity is well over and what if over the years Abraham too loses his childbearing capacity? Abraham should have prayed about this idea. Eventually fear won the battle; Abraham acted in fear and had a son through Hagar. We know Abraham paid terribly for his mistake and they are paying even to this day. Remember, God’s promises are never based on our natural capacity.
On the flipside, if you look into the life of Abraham, he was not a man of fear all through his life.
Eventually a son, Isaac, was born to Abraham and Sarah and sometime later came the greatest test of Abraham’s life. In Genesis 22, God told him to travel to a distant mountain and offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Put yourself in Abraham’s place. What conflicting emotions must have raged through his mind? But by now, Abraham trusted and relied on God. He learned to act in faith.
See what Apostle Paul wrote in his epistle regarding Abraham. Romans 4:20-21 “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
We know the story of Abraham. When Abraham laid his son Isaac on the altar to sacrifice, God intervened at the last moment: Genesis 22:12 Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. The result of Abraham’s faith is God’s faithfulness of bringing a generation of faith through him.
When we study the life of Abraham, we can see that Abraham’s life was not one unbroken catalog of faith. There were ups and downs, moments of worry, doubt, indecision and frustration. Sometimes he acted in fear, sometimes in faith. Here is the lesson for us, whenever Abraham acted in faith, he saw great deliverances, he saw the hand of God but when he was given into fear he terribly failed.
God is telling us this morning not to panic and act in fear. Even though in reality things are looking negative, continue walking in God’s call and His will because God has the capacity to fulfill what he has promised in your life.
3. ASSOCIATE WITH PEOPLE OF FAITH.
One similarity between faith and fear is that both are contagious. If we are around people who are always complaining, discouraging, negative, and worrying; that sprit can come on us. We can catch other people’s emotions just like we can catch a cold.
Illustration: There was a study done where a group of people received a mild electrical shock and their brain waves were measured from the time they heard they were going to get the shock to the time it was over. What is interesting is that they had another group in the room that was just there to watch the process. They measured their brain waves as well. Even though they were not getting the shock they experienced the same fears as the people that were getting the shock. The researchers’ conclusion was that just seeing other people’s fears is enough to make us afraid.
If you friends are constantly complaining, worrying, negative, let me tell you, you are going to be the same soon. If you stay with them long there are chances that you are going to catch that fear in you.
Do you remember the time when Moses sent spies into the Promised Land? God had promised them the land and Moses sent 12 people to survey the land. All 12 of them were positive about the quality of the land, they loved the city, they loved the fruit of the land but when it came to actually possessing the promise except Joshua and Caleb, the remaining 10 of them had a negative report. Soon the negative report spread the entire Israelites and everyone was filled with fear. The people finally wanted to stone the ones with the positive report and get back to Egypt.
It is easy to associate with negative people, it is easy to associate with fear but do you know what happened to the people who acted in fear and wanted to go back to Egypt, all perished in the desert. The people of faith entered and possessed the Promised Land. Associate with people of faith. Let our godly friends be more than our heathen friends.
I know when we are living in this world we cannot always avoid such people. Maybe a coworker is like that, maybe your spouse or a family member is like that. I pray that God will give you the grace to overcome their negativity. But do not believe their negative report; believe the report of the Lord.
Illustration: I heard about a man whose friends decided to play a trick on him. He went to work one morning feeling great and happy. When he walked him the receptionist said, “Are you feeling okay today?” He said, “Yes, I feel great, why?” She said, “I do not know, you look a little bit different.” He did not think about it. He went to his office after some time a coworker came in and said, “Are you tired, you are looking dull.” He said, “Well I feel fine!” A few minutes later he started thinking maybe I am tired. Another man came by, they talked for some time and then he said, “Do you have a fever, you really look dull?” The guy rolled up his sleeves, put on the fan said, “I am feeling a little uneasy.” Another man came after sometime and said, “You look terrible today, what is wrong with you?” By lunch this man went back home on sick leave.
That is the power of suggestion; this is the power of negativity. If we do not guard our mind and be careful about what we allow in, we can be talked into a whole lot of things.
You need not be like what others feel about you. I do not want you to go home today with a negative report that you cannot make it, you are not good enough. But the Lord’s report says, you are blessed, you can make it, you are going to be great.
4. EXPECT GOD’S BEST.
Change the perspective of your expectations, have the best thoughts of great days ahead of you.
When we go to the book of Habakkuk, the children of Israel incurred great loses. That particular year they had no crops or cattle. People are literally starving and yet in bad economy. In the midst of all this see the expectation of God’s servant: Habakkuk 3:17-19 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.
In the midst of all the negativity that is happening Habakkuk is praising God and expecting God to turn around things. He never lost his joy. Habakkuk was expecting God’s best in his worst. Expect God’s best for you.
Joke: There was a rich couple whose bedroom was in the first floor of their bungalow. Almost every other day the wife after getting into bed would tell the husband to go and check downstairs, maybe some thieves are around. The husband eventually found out that the noises were made by the neighboring cats at their gate, but as a routine he would go whenever his wife would ask him to check if there are any thieves at home. This has been happening for 30 years of marriage. One day as usual the wife sent him down to check for thieves. When the husband went down sure enough there was a thief who pointed a gun at him. The thief said, “Do not make a sound; just give me your valuables.” He went and got the valuables and gave to the thief. The thief turned around and was about to run off and the man said, “Hi! Wait a minute, you cannot leave yet, you got to come upstairs and meet my wife.” The thief asked, “Why?” The husband said, “She has been expecting you for the last 30 years.”
Always expect God’s best whenever you are faced with “bad news”. Our challenges are no match for God. From healing the sick to raising the dead, from joblessness to court cases, from poverty to family noting is impossible by God. What man deems impossible is always possible with God. Therefore, expect great things from God.
Choose faith instead of fear. Expect great things from God. Instead of constantly worrying pray in the presence of God, confess your sins to God. Tell him Lord my life is in your hands. I know you are directing my career. I am not expecting defeat; I am expecting to have victory over my circumstances. I am expecting my situation to turn around and I know you are leading me to victory. Amen!