Series on faith in God
We have been looking at the topic of faith in God for the last number of weeks. (Perhaps you might even think the title today applies to making it through this series.) We have also looked at the obstacles that get us off track and keep us from receiving what God has for us.
Last week we talked about the third part of faith, how we need to act on our belief and trust in God’s word to us. Today, we are talking about the third obstacle to faith, giving up. This is when you act on your belief and trust in God’s word to you, but then things get hard and so you quit.
Now, this much is obvious –
Walking by faith isn’t easy
You will experience difficulties and you will have to wait on God. In fact, I think we can say that it’s rare that God acts suddenly or that there are no difficulties.
- Abraham waited 25 years. From the time he was promised a son until the promise was fulfilled was a long time! And there were many trials and tests related to receiving this promise.
- The Psalmist says, “For you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer” – Psalm 38:15. The writer here is seriously ill and has enemies who are scheming against him. He’s going through a hard time and waiting for God to answer.
And we will often find ourselves in situations where we are in a test and it seems to be taking forever.
Why do we go through difficulties and have to wait? Let me say just briefly, that God is working in us. God wants to teach us (Deuteronomy 8:3) and shape us and make us more mature. As James 1:3-4 says, “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” This is God’s goal for us.
But also Satan is working against us. He is called our “enemy” (Matthew 13:39), and also our “adversary” (1 Peter 5:8). He opposes our attempts to walk in faith, by making it hard for us. So for these reasons it can be really hard to walk by faith. You will be tempted to give up at one point or another.
Let me ask you –
Where are you struggling with your faith?
Where are you tempted to give up? If you’re in a situation like this I invite you to think about it as we look at the Scriptures this morning. If you’re not currently struggling, let me give you some examples to work with.
1. Starting a new ministry: You step out of your comfort zone to do what you think God is calling you to do. But things don’t go well at first. Not a lot of people are interested and it seems really hard to you. You’re sure that God wanted you to do this, but you have acted and nothing is working out. What do you do?
2. Looking for a spouse: You’re single and you know it’s God’s will that you marry a believer. And you have prayed for God’s help. But no one is on the horizon. What do you do?
3. A financial crisis: You can’t pay your bills. You have cut back and done everything that you can do, but the struggle continues. What do you do?
We need endurance
– in these situations. We need endurance in our belief, our trust and our action. Endurance means that you keep on doing what you are doing, despite the difficult circumstances and despite how long it takes.
- You keep believing in God’s truth
- You keep trusting in God and dealing with any doubt that comes
- You keep acting on God’s truth and your trust in God
Endurance means that you do all this, despite whatever problems come your way.
Now this doesn’t mean that you dig in and ignore everything around you, so that you have blind faith. If it really is difficult and taking forever, maybe there’s some presumption going on. It’s not a lack of faith to check. Jesus did this in the garden of Gethsemane. Just before the cross he prayed, “God, is this really the path you want for me?” But once you check and affirm that you’re standing on firm ground, don’t give up!
And here’s –
Why you shouldn’t give up
1) God won’t let you be tested beyond what you can take. Now, I confess I have wondered about this myself. Because it has certainly felt like it is more than I can take at times. I think, “I can’t take any more.” And then more comes. And then more. And then still more.
But Scripture tells us that it is true. “God . . . will not let you be tempted (tested) beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13. God will not let us get in over our heads, and he will provide a way out in due time, if we look to him.
Another reason not to give up is that 2) The answer might be just around the corner. Another reality of walking by faith is that God often acts when we are at our weakest. Think of Abraham. God acted when he and Sarah were both too old to have children. It simply wasn’t possible.
And with us a well, God often waits until we can’t do it in our own strength. So do you feel weak? Are you ready to give up? That might be exactly when God is getting ready to come through for you.
And then finally, 3) It is those who endure who receive the blessing. Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Don’t grow weary in your situation, because in due season you too will reap the blessing, “if you don’t give up.”
A personal story . . .
Listen to Hebrews 10:36. “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Endurance in doing God’s will is the key to receiving the promises that God has given us.
I believe that this is God’s word to you here today and I hope you will receive it. Don’t give up.