Faithlife Sermons

Faith Can Fix Anything

Lies Christians Swallow  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Can faith fix anything? That depends on what we mean by "faith" and "fix." Faith is trusting God enough to do what He says even when (1) it doesn't make sense to us; (2) we're not sure it's going to work; (3) we don't have all the answers; and (4) it doesn't seem to "fix" the problem. Do you trust God?

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Introduction

Quiz: Is this in the Bible?
#1
God will not give you more than you can handle.
Pride goes before destruction. (, NIV)
The lion shall lay down with the lamb.
#2
In the last days, you will not be able to know the season except by the changing of the leaves.
Hate the sin, love the sinner.
What God has joined together, let no one separate. (, NIV)
Third week in our series Lies Christians Swallow

Body

Body

The Lie/Myth: Faith Can Fix Anything

Everyone in this room
Popular opinion says that anything is possible if you just believe. Faith is a skill you can master through practice and discipline—you teach yourself to believe something without doubting, to visualize it as reality, and it becomes true. If you’re sick, just believe you will get well. If you lost your job, just believe without doubting and you will find a new one.

Popular ideas about faith

“The word on the street is that faith is a potent mixture of intellectual and emotional self-control that when properly harnessed can literally change outcomes through positive thinking and clear visualization.” ~ Larry Osborne, Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe, p. 9
Anything is possible if you just believe. Faith is a skill you can master through practice and discipline—you teach yourself to believe something without doubting, to visualize it as reality, and it becomes true. If you’re sick, just believe you will get well. If you lost your job, just believe you will find a new one.
“The word on the street is that faith is a potent mixture of intellectual and emotional self-control that when properly harnessed can literally change outcomes through positive thinking and clear visualization.” ~ Larry Osborne, Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe, p. 9
Many churches and pastors teach a message that portrays faith as something like a spiritual cattle prod we can use to control God. If we just have enough faith, the right kind of faith, if we think positive thoughts of faith, then God will do whatever we ask and give us whatever we want—we just have to speak the word of faith in order to claim our best life now.
Biblical Faith
“The word on the street is that faith is a potent mixture of intellectual and emotional self-control that when properly harnessed can literally change outcomes through positive thinking and clear visualization.” ~ Larry Osborne, Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe, p. 9

What is faith?

Faith is not...

Faith is not spiritual currency.
Spiritual currency we can use to cut a deal with God.
A spiritual cattle prod to control God.
We can’t buy God’s favor if we have enough faith. We can’t go to the spiritual blessing store and spend our faith on being healed or getting a raise. We can’t save up our faith and blow it all on winning the lottery.
We can’t control God with our faith. God is never in our debt. He doesn’t “owe” us anything, regardless of how much we believe or how positive our thoughts.
God is never in our debt.
God is never in our debt. He doesn’t “owe” us anything because we have enough faith to “buy” His favor.
God cannot be cajoled into doing what we want because we have faith.
Faith is not positive thinking.
Positive thinking = confidence, the opposite of doubt and fear
“You gotta have faith” has come to mean “Think positively.”
But all my positive thoughts won’t do jack to fix your problem.
When you’re team’s down three runs with two outs in the ninth inning, what does every good fan do? Think positive thoughts. Don’t lose hope. Visualize a hit… as if my thoughts have any impact at all on whether or not the batter gets a hit!
Faith is not mere belief.
Beliefs = primarily intellectual, but they require no corresponding action
Since our beliefs exist in our heads, we’re not surprised when people say they believe in something—like UFO’s, Bigfoot, evolution, creationism, or Jesus—and yet that belief has virtually zero impact on their lives. It’s just something we think is probably true. Acting on that belief is optional.
Spiritual currency we can use to cut a deal with God.
A skill we master.

Faith is…

A magic potion that solves all our problems.
The absence of all doubt.
Blind, irrational belief.
Faith is trusting God enough to do what He says.
trusting God enough to accept what He gives, go where He leads, and do what He says.
Faith isn’t just believing that God exists. Certainly belief is an important part of faith, but faith goes beyond mere belief and into the realm of trust.
Faith is trust.
Positive thinking = confidence, the opposite of doubt and fear; “You gotta have faith” has come to mean “Think positively”
Faith isn’t just believing that God exists. Certainly belief is an important part of faith, but faith goes beyond mere belief and into the realm of trust.
The difference between belief and trust is that trust is accompanied by action. If we trust a person, it’s supposed to show up in how we relate to that person.
Belief =
The difference between positive thinking, belief, and trust.
A parent who tells their teenage girl, “I trust you,” but won’t let her out of the house doesn’t really trust her.
Trust
If we trust God, it’s supposed to show up in how we relate to God, what we think, how we live, what decisions we make. Do we trust God? Do we put our faith in Him? What does that look like?
Faith is trusting God enough do what He says.
God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we think He should. He doesn’t always give us what we ask for. He doesn’t always take us in the direction we wanted to go. He doesn’t always tell us to do what we think we want to do.
But, what God gives us is always what we need. Where God leads us is always where we need to go. And, when God speaks, it is always what we need to hear. The question is, do we trust God enough to listen?
God doesn’t always give you what you ask for, but He always gives you what you need.
God doesn’t always give you what you ask for—God almost never answers my prayers the way I think He should. He does answer my prayers, but He rarely gives me what I ask for. He always gives me what I need.
Illustration
Most of the time God doesn’t answer my prayers by giving me what I asked for.
Most of the time in my life God doesn’t answer my prayers the way
Sometimes what God gives us is not what we asked for, or want, or think we need. But faith is trusting that what God gives you is what you need.
The question of faith isn’t: Do I believe God will give me what I ask for? The question is: Do I trust God enough to accept what He gives?
The question of faith isn’t: Do I believe God will give me what I ask for? The question is: Do I trust God enough to accept what He gives?
Faith is trusting God enough to… go where He leads…
Sometimes God leads us in a direction we don’t want to go. But faith is trusting that where God leads you is where you need to go.
Sometimes God leads you down a path you didn’t intend to go
What He says is what you need to do.
Sometimes God asks us to do something we don’t want to do. But faith is trusting that what God says is what we need to do.
Faith is trusting God enough to… do what He says.

What do we mean by “fix”?

A Story of Faith in Action

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

Mark 6:30–44 NIV
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. 35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.” 39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
Mark 6:35–44 NIV
35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.” 39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Big Idea

The disciples trusted Jesus enough to do what He said, even when they didn’t know how it would turn out.

Implications

Faith is trusting God enough to do what He says, even when...
Faith is trusting God enough to do what He says, even when it’s not what we want to hear. We trust God even when His answer is not the one we want. (vv. 35-37a)
Exposition
The disciples realized they had a problem—too many people, not enough bread. So what did they do? They came to Jesus and asked Him to get rid of the problem: “Send the people away.”
But what was Jesus’ response? “You give them something to eat.” Not exactly what they wanted to hear!
When we face a difficult situation or a problem, we often do the same thing. We come to God and ask Him to send the problem away. Sometimes He does, sometimes He doesn’t.
Illustration
When Susanne and Kris found out that their baby wasn’t developing correctly in the womb. Something was wrong. We prayed and prayed, and the answer was not what anyone wanted to hear...
Application
Faith isn’t believing that God will get rid of your problem, or even that He can make it go away. Faith is trusting God no matter what—even when His answer is not what we want to hear.
Faith is trusting God enough to do what He says, even when we still have questions. We trust God even though we don’t have all the answers. (vv. 37-38)
Mark 6:37–38 NIV
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
Exposition
Notice that Jesus never answered their question or explained why He gave them these instructions? Granted, He did scold them for asking the question, but He didn’t give them the answer.
It’s okay to ask God questions, but we have to understand that He might not give us the answer. And if we wait until all our questions are answered, we’ll never act. Faith isn’t something just to be talked about; it’s something to be acted on.
Jesus didn’t scold them for asking
Illustration
Ally wanted to go to Bible college, but didn’t know how it would ever happen, given her background. She had a hundred questions: How would I pay for it? Where would I live? How would I be able to pass my classes?
Application
Notice that Jesus never answered their question or explained why He gave them these instructions?
Faith isn’t something to be talked about; it’s something to be acted on.
There will be times in your life when God asks you to trust Him, even though you don’t have all the answers—that’s faith.
Faith is trusting God enough to do what He says, even when it doesn’t make sense to us. We trust God even when we don’t understand why He’s asking us to do something. (vv. 39-41)
Mark 6:39–41 NIV
39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.
Exposition
When were they exercising faith? When they did what Jesus told them to do before the miracle happened (vv. 39-40). Can you imagine what they must’ve been thinking? I can— “What’s the point of this? How is this helping?” And yet, they did what Jesus told them to do, even though they didn’t understand why.
When they did what Jesus told them to do before the miracle happened (vv. 39-40).
When they did what Jesus told them to do as the miracle was happening (v. 41).
Illustration
Every doctor and specialist my sister saw said the same thing: “Terminate the pregnancy. It makes no sense to carry this pregnancy to term. The baby has 0% chance of survival.” But my sister and her husband said, “Whether the baby lives or dies isn’t our decision to make—that’s up to God.”
Application
When were they exercising faith?
When they did what Jesus told them to do before the miracle happened (vv. 39-40).
We can’t see everything that God sees. We don’t know everything that God knows. Sometimes we have to trust God enough to do what He says, even when it doesn’t make sense to us.
When they did what Jesus told them to do as the miracle was happening (v. 41).
When they did what Jesus told them to do as the miracle was happening (v. 41).
Faith isn’t something to be talked about; it’s something to be acted on.
Faith is trusting God enough to do what He says even when we’re not sure it will work. We trust God even when we doubt. (vv. 42-44; see also )
Exposition
The way Jesus chose to address their problem was not what the disciples expected—they wanted Him to send the people away, remember? All the while they were doing what Jesus told them to do, even though they didn’t understand why, even though it didn’t make sense to them, and I think they weren’t sure whether it was even going to work.
Look at what happened just two chapters later, after Jesus fed another crowd of about 15,000 people…
Illustration
Mark 8:17–21 NIV
17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. 20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” 21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
We don’t have all the answers (v. 38).
Even though the disciples had their doubts and fears, they still trusted Jesus enough to do what He said—that’s real faith!
Application
Faith is not the absence of all doubt and fear. It is trusting God in spite of our doubts and fears!
Illustration
When Ally sent her application to Moody, she was sure she’d never get in… but she did. When she applied for financial aid after the deadline had passed, she was absolutely certain she would be denied… but she wasn’t.
It doesn’t seem to “fix” the problem (vv. 39-41).
Application
Faith is not the absence of all doubt and fear. It is trusting God in spite of our doubts and fears.
When were they exercising faith?
When they did what Jesus told them to do before the miracle happened (vv. 39-40).
“God doesn’t care if we’ve mastered the art of positive thinking. He’s not impressed by the mental gymnastics of visualizing success. He doesn’t even insist that we eradicate all doubts and fears. He asks us to trust Him, and to act on that trust.” ~ Larry Osborne, Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe, p. 12
When they did what Jesus told them to do as the miracle was happening (v. 41).
When they did what Jesus told them to do after the miracle was happening (vv. 42-44).
What does that mean?

Conclusion

“God doesn’t care if we’ve mastered the art of positive thinking. He’s not impressed by the mental gymnastics of visualizing success. He doesn’t even insist that we eradicate all doubts and fears. He asks us to trust Him.” ~ Larry Osborne, Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe, p. 12

Do you trust Him?

The real question of faith is not: Do you believe God will fix your problem? It is: Do you trust God enough to do what He says, even in the midst of your problem?
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