Summary of the Sermon by Pastor K Steven, at Bethany International Service, on Sunday, 30 December 2018.
How God Matures Our Faith
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
What are we expecting God to do in our life? This is called the Law of Expectation. Faith makes all the difference in our life – faith is the currency of heaven. God tests our faith through life’s incidences, nothing happens to us without the knowledge of God.
Every day we have opportunities to build our faith, however most of us we fail to realise that this is part of life’s training. When we do not develop our faith, we fail the tests and we cannot mature as Christians. Luke 17:5 The apostle said to Jesus Lord, “Increase our faith!” God builds our faith by testing it, the truth is our faith can only increase by being tried and stretched.
Matt 9:29 “According to our faith let it be done to you.” This is the law that God has established.
God tests and matures our faith through three common ways -
1. Through difficulties
Difficulties include trials, problems, pressures, and tough circumstances. These are things we bring upon ourselves or others bring them into our lives. All these take place with God’s permission. As we face obstacles, our response as a Christian should be doing the best that we can and surrendering the result to the LORD.
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
There are times when God permits difficulties in our life in order to show Himself strong and to use it to become a testimony of our own. God sends trials and difficulties that may seem too much to handle but He promises that we will never be tested beyond our ability, the hands of God will sustain us in times of difficulties. God comes in a timely manner to step in when we are at the end of our own strength. In April 2018, Pastor Steven was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and he had to be put through 13 cycles of chemotherapy. It has been a tough and painful journey, so much anxiety and uncertainties. Despite all the hardship he went through, Pastor Steven held on to the Psalm 121, which is his favourite psalm. We may go through a problem that seems too big for us but remember our God is bigger in our problem.
2. Through demands (unreasonable, inconvenient, impossible things)
Every time we are given a negative report of a situation that we cannot overcome, we have a choice to believe God’s Word or what our situation says. God is still making the impossible to become possible, God is still in the business of healing and miracles for those who believe. While we cannot deny reality, we have a choice to hold on to God’s truth and God can turn it around. Who do we believe, who do we give importance to? The Bible is the manual to resolve any issue. Give time to God’s Word and stop postponing to dig into the Bible. Are we going to trust God’s Word or our reality? Demands can be placed in our life that seem insurmountable, like when Noah was told to build an ark (Genesis 6:14), Abraham to leave his comfort zone (Genesis 12:1), and the Israelites in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land (Exodus 16:4). We are here to prove to God that we can overcome trials by His grace.
3. Through delays
If every prayer is answered immediately, every need is met automatically, if every problem is solved, then we will not need any faith and our faith will not be stretched. It is human nature that we do not like to wait. God gets to see what is in our heart during the times of waiting.
The testing of our faith produces perseverance (James 1:3). Speak the Word of God, read the Bible every day because the Scriptures is alive and powerful. Renew our mind daily with the Word of God. The Word of God will remind us and help us to think differently and we can rise above our situation. The purpose of these tests is that our faith and our perseverance will grow and mature. Pray for souls, to carry the burden of God’s heart that none should perish. We have a part to play in sowing the seeds of God, to share, and as we pray, we are watering the seeds through our prayers.
Let this be the time when we do not run away from our problems; walk through life’s difficulties knowing that Jesus is working behind the scenes. Walk through the year 2019 victoriously with Christ, confess the Word of God, take the promises of God and declare to the world that God’s constitution prevails. Continue to trust God even when the going gets tough. What is impossible with man is possible with God!