Every day it takes some sort of faith to live. Faith is “the complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” The night before, you closed your eyes and went to sleep believing the next day would come and you would wake up and pursue whatever that day brought you. You may get in your car, believing it would start and drive to work believing those lines down the middle of the road would keep cars in their lane. After work you might get some groceries, believing they would be available to buy and that they would meet all the regulations so that you didn’t get sick. You might also go for a ride on your bike, believing for the next hour that you would be safe on those same roads that you believed the lines would keep the vehicles where they were supposed to be. You may get sick and go to the doctor and get a prescription for whatever is ailing you, believing with their help you would get better. Every day people believe in something, and they use that faith to face each day that comes. Faith is also “the belief in the doctrines and teaching of religion.” Whether you are Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian, everyone lives with a certain amount of faith in those doctrines and teachings to a certain extent, some more than others. Most people hold to this kind of faith or else they wouldn’t be involved. But that faith like the other faith is not necessarily faith in God.

        So, faith is a very common thing to have and many think nothing of it. Most live out their lives with this common faith, that is until something goes wrong and realize that common faith or the faith you put into your doctrines and teachings is not enough. It may be an accident or a break in the supply chain, as we saw during Covid. You may wake up sick and not be able to get out of bed or the doctor might not be able to cure what is ailing you. Even though most do not follow God as they should, when they realize whatever is happening to them is beyond their control, they will find they need more faith than the common faith everyone has. At this point they may call out to God for help, but many stubbornly will not. Today we are beginning our Lenten journey that will look at having great faith in God. This will be forty-six days (forty days plus six Sundays) of focusing on faith, concluding with Easter. This faith is far beyond the common everyday faith that most have. This faith is a fear of God which makes you fearless, no matter what comes your way, but this great faith, few people have because they refuse to turn back to God’s word. To have this faith will mean that you must admit you do not live by faith as you should. Many will say they live by faith but when the bible is the standard, the bible shows that most do not. 

        Lent is about repentance and returning to God and obeying His word by turning from our own wicked ways. Hosea 14:9 “The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” Jeremiah told the people Jeremiah 7:23 “I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’ 27 “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.” Jeremiah 8:5 “They cling to deceit; they refuse to return. 6 I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle. 7 Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord.” The church is filled with the disobedient and rebellious, but it doesn’t have to be this way. As we take this journey into faith, this is about turning from our wicked ways and returning to God. Ezekiel 18:30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”
        Our theme for this journey is about increasing our faith. This faith has nothing to do with faith in men and women or objects, but it is a faith in God. There is only one way as Jesus said, John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Ephesians 4:4 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” This faith is about believing and obeying God’s word, which is why the church must return to God’s word. This is about making sure we are following and obeying the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1 “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
        This is a journey back to righteousness that comes by faith. Romans 4:3 “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Galatians 3:26 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Sadly, both Jew and Gentile have rejected God’s word and refuse to live by faith.

        Common faith is easy to live by as it happens naturally. People drive their vehicles every day without hesitation but when you realize the lines on the road are just paint and not a bumper rail, you may not drive, but most do drive believing the paint is enough to keep vehicles from colliding head on at 80 - 100 km/ hr. Great faith goes beyond the everyday faith that most have, and we will talk about that in the coming days. The church for generations hasn’t really required faith to live by, as it is mostly built with humans hands. Mark 7:8 “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” 9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” Most of what happens in the church is based on human power and not on power from on High. Many understand that they should be connected to the church somehow, either in person or online and if they look, they will find one that makes it easy to live by a common level of faith. 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Jeremiah gives us this all too common occurrence. Jeremiah 5:16 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ 18 But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word? I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.” Their message is easy and the way they take people is broad. Matthew 7:13 “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Proverbs 9:8 “Little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.” The message in the church today is not the message Jesus preached as many have turned to other gospels, doctrines of demons and a different Jesus. This is why we are not seeing what took place in the Gospels and Acts. One of the lies is that a person, especially in the charismatic circles is told when they are not healed, they did not have enough faith in order to explain why they were not healed. The problem is that the message is false, and they serve a different Jesus and other gospels. The people who go to them do not know that they are being deceived. We read James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Since that is not happening, the leaders blame the people instead of themselves. It is true that great faith produced results in the bible, but it was also the true Jesus who brought those results. A women who was bleeding Matthew 9:21 “said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed. 22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.” While satan does masquerade as an angel of light, what he does is different than what Jesus did. Again, this is why the spirits need to be tested.

        The message the church today preaches only takes common faith, but the message Jesus preached required great faith. Romans 10:16 “Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” This message that Jesus and the disciples taught is totally different than the message today’s church teaches, thus the lack of healing and demons cast out. The true gospel has power and authority to heal the sick and cast out demons. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Paul understood that message and the commitment. He said Philippians 3:7 “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Romans 14:8 “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Many think they are living for the Lord, but it is not the Lord they are living and dying for. They have confused what their hands have made with the power of God. Faith has been placed on man’s abilities and not God’s.

        This faith is about believing, even if we can’t see it. Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Faith is believing what the bible states, not the scientists. If you are still struggling with creation (yes, the bible says six days - Exodus 20:11 “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.) and who God is and if you don’t believe that Jesus can still take Matthew 8:17 “up our infirmities and bear our diseases,” during this time, take the time to repent and call out to God and ask Him to open your eyes. We have this promise, Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” But we must understand this verse comes because of the rebellion of Judah. Jeremiah 29:10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Solomon was told 2 Chronicles 7:13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.”

        Our journey is about returning to God and believing and obeying His word and then living by great faith. Ask God to increase your faith. As Jesus taught, the disciples said, Luke 17:5 “Increase our faith!” When a man brought his boy to be healed by Jesus, he said to Jesus Mark 9:22 “if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus then said, “23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Jesus makes this powerful statement that is the foundation of faith in God the creator of the universe. First ask yourself, if you really believe God is the creator of the universe? We are told Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God said, Isaiah 45:12 “It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.” Amos 4:12 “Prepare to meet your God.” 13 He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord God Almighty is his name.” So, when Jesus said Matthew 21:21 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer,” you have to believe it. I have heard people say Jesus nor his disciples never did that. Sadly, they spend more time focused on unbelief than on believing what Jesus said. Whether He did or didn’t, that is not the point. You must believe that God could move a mountain. When you believe that God, the creator of the universe could take the mountain He created and toss it into the sea, then as Jesus also said to the disciples after they asked why they could not cast out the demon from the little boy (the same boy that the father asked “if you can”), Matthew 17:20 “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” When you believe God can move the mountain, whether He does or not, then it only takes a small amount of this kind of faith to do as Jesus did and to see the same results as we see in the Gospels and Acts. There is a song by Mercy Me called Even If. One of the verses says, “They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain. Well good thing, a little faith is all I have, right now. But God, when You choose to leave mountains unmovable, Oh give me the strength to be able to sing It is well with my soul.” That actually is not what Jesus said. Jesus is talking about great faith and of that faith you only need a little to move a mountain. He is not talking about a person of little faith struggling to believe what He says. It will not be well with your soul if you do not believe. To do as Jesus did means you believe His gospel, not the other gospels most in the church today believe. The lack of power in the church shows this to be true.
        This Wednesday on the calendar is Ash Wednesday which will be day one of our journey. Over the years I have used the season of Lent to focus on a subject. This year is faith. The church needs to once again believe that “everything is possible for one who believes!” Jesus said, John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Jesus also said Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Instead of spending time discussing why it is not possible to do as Jesus did, spend the time believing what Jesus said. Common everyday faith needs to be exchanged for great faith that believes mountains can be moved. Then it will be well with your soul. Once again, the church needs to do as Abraham was told; be faithful and be blameless. Genesis 17:1 “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.” Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Joshua told the people, Joshua 24:14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”