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The Great Stories of Faith (series)

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The Great Stories of Faith

“The Two Tracks Faith Must Run On”

February 19, 2012

Hebrews 11

Today is the beginning of a new series entitled “The Great Stories of Faith.” Over the next 5-6 weeks we are going to look at some of the greatest faith stories in the Bible.
Over the past three years our faith has been severely tested with the downturn in the economy as well as various other trials that many of us have gone through. 
Last fall as I prayed about 2012 I felt the Lord strongly impress me that I needed to challenge the members of this church to rise up and walk in faith.
I believe God has promised that 2012 is the year of replenishing. This is the year that God is going to fully restore what has been lost.
But it will NOT happen without absolute, resolute faith in God.
Before we get into some of the great stories of faith from the Word I want to set the table today with a clear understanding of how faith works.
Over the years I have studied faith. Through personal challenges I have grown in my own faith.
I have come to believe that there are two ‘expressions’ of faith. 
I call them “The Two Tracks Faith Must Run On.” If a train loses a track and tries to run on one rail, only one thing will happen, it will derail!
And so it is with our faith. Our faith has to have two tracks to run on. I call these two tracks Endurance Faith and Deliverance Faith.
Let’s Begin With A Definition of Faith – Hebrews 11:1
Faith can be difficult to wrap our minds around. Even the definition given here in Hebrews 11:1 to me is deep and mysterious.
Whenever I have a difficult biblical passage to unpack I find it helpful to read it from several different paraphrases and translations.
The Living Bible paraphrase puts Hebrews 11:1 this way: TLB “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.”
Notice the word HOPE is in the definition of faith.
I think of faith and hope kind of like two brothers. They’re in the same family, from the same parents and may almost be identical, yet there’s a little bit of difference between them.
Faith and hope are always expecting something they don’t yet have.
Romans 8:24-25 “Hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25-But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
My friend Pastor Phil Curtis recently sent me his definition of faith: “Faith is no longer hoping that what God says is ours will someday be enjoyed, but being convinced that what God says is ours has already been given without any evidence to our senses.”
A big part of faith is having the deep down conviction; [Screen] Not nownot sure whennot sure how, but it’s a done deal.
Faith is not seeing what we are praying for, but giving God TIME to do His work and holding on to HOPE without wavering.
We go through difficult seasons and we hold on to hope, we stand in faith, we trust in God. On the outside it may not seem like anything is happening, but faith and hope are hard at work!
How many of you have you been following the Jeremy Lin story that’s been in the news the last few weeks?
What makes Lin’s story so compelling is the fact that he’s one of the first Asian-American basketball players to make it in the NBA, but also it’s the fact that he’s a person of deep, authentic faith in God.
  • This week a reporter asked Lin if he could believe allmthis was happening to him, and he said, “No. But I believe in an all-powerful and all-knowing God who does miracles.”
Faith Produces a Powerful Testimony – Hebrews 11:2
Faith does not grow in the absence of severe testing and trials.
But the good news is you will receive a powerful testimony when you endure a powerful trial!
1 Peter 1:7 TLB “These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it-and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of His return.”
Let me tell you what a powerful testimony does. It powerfully impacts the FAITH of other believers. 
These stories of faith show how God’s power is revealed in our world and can turn an impossible situation around.
Frank was a new Christian and he felt he heard God speaking to his heart about going into the pastoral ministry, but Frank had no education, no money to go to college, and no family support. Frank made a decision to attend a college 500 miles from home and said he would walk there if need be. He literally packed one duffel bag full of his belongings and started out with $5.00 in his pocket. 
His friends thought he’d lost his mind. How are you going to get there? How are going to pay for your education? How, how, how…? Frank told them he had a note from God in his pocket and that’s all he needed. What note, they asked? His answer was one of absolute faith in God. He said he copied the note from Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory.” 
As Frank began his 500 mile journey on foot, driver after driver picked him up until he finally reached the campus two days later. He still had the $5.00 bill in his pocket. He enrolled for the fall semester, worked jobs and worked on his studies, and graduated in three years. Years later Frank became the President of that College! He framed that very same $5.00 bill and put Philippians 4:19 under it. It hung on his wall the entire time he led the College. 
What a powerful testimony of faith in God. Can you imagine the visiting potential students who came by his office and said, I don’t think I can afford to go to college! All Frank had to do was show them the $5.00 bill!
As we listen to the testimonies of faith that others share we are thinking, if God did that for them He will do it for me!
  • Chorus “It is no secret, what God can do, what He’s done for others, He’ll do for you.”
Our personal testimony gives us faith, and faith gives us power against the devil. Revelation 12:11 says we overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb AND by the word of our testimony.
My goal for this series = your faith will grow exponentially!
Faith Enables Us To Please God – Hebrews 11:6.
God expects His children to be people of faith, and here’s what I’ve come to understand. A lack of faith from us disappoints God.
When Peter took a few steps out of the boat and then began to sink from his fear, Jesus said to Peter, “Oh you of LITTLE FAITH, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31.
You can almost hear the disappointment in Jesus voice. Peter, come on buddy. Trust in Me! You can do it. You were doing it. Why did you stop?
I don’t want to be a person of LITTLE FAITH! I don’t want to wallow in despair when all of the power and authority of heaven has been promised to THOSE WHO BELIEVE.
And it doesn’t take much faith either to please the heart of God.
Luke 17:5-6 “And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 
6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Endurance and Deliverance Faith
Deliverance faith is the kind of faith that inspires great books and movies. It’s the exciting part of the faith journey when God comes through and the miracle takes place.
But Endurance faith is the hard work of faith. Endurance faith believes but has not yet received the promises. It’s the faith that stands even when the promise never comes to pass in the manner that we thought it would. 
Through the rest of Hebrews 11 you see this kind of ebb and flow of the endurance faith and deliverance faith working side by side.
Abraham’s Endurance Faith – Hebrews 11:8-13.
Abraham’s Deliverance Faith – Hebrews 11:17-19.
Deliverance Faith – Hebrews 11:29-35a.
Endurance Faith – Hebrews 11:35b-39.
There’s a mystery to faith. We stand in faith. We believe to the VERY end. 
But we must leave the final outcome to God, come what may.
If I ONLY have endurance faith then life becomes a drudgery.
  • I have faith to believe that God will take me through but I may not have faith to believe that God can deliver me out of this altogether.
If I ONLY have deliverance faith then life becomes confusing.
  • Whenever things don’t go as I had believed for I might conclude that God can’t do what He said He could do, and I lose faith.
I trust this series, the great stories of faith, builds your faith to new levels in both endurance faith and deliverance faith.
1 John 5:4 “And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.”

About Ron Bontrager

Lead Pastor of Lakeview Church in Indianapolis.

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