BRANCHES OF THE TREE OF FAITH
(FIRST OF TWO PARTS)
Reading: Mark 4.35-41
Text: Romans 12:3

INTRODUCTION

(a) Faith is an all-encompassing Subject even in our daily lives.

After all, if you didn't have faith that a bus was going to take you to the destination displayed on the front, there wouldn't be much point getting on to it?

(b) Whilst living near Edinburgh we bought a fresh chicken which went bad before we were able to cook it! It was meant to be Sunday dinner! It ended up stinking to high heaven, wrapped up in 2 carrier bags hanging on the wall in the back garden until we could take it back to the supermarket where we purchased it! Phew, did it stink!

Such things - we say, somewhat make us lose faith in the shop where we made the purchase, but fortunately the shop somewhat restored our confidence by apologising profusely, and replacing the chicken with an even bigger one. Following which, they got out their fresh-air aerosols and sprayed that part of the store thoroughly!

(c) Often I've heard people talk about the Doctor - you know the things they say about the poor harassed overworked G.P.'s don't you? Well how many times - have you heard someone say, 'Oh no, 1 don't have faith in that doctor, ever since…………'

(d) Faith, is an integral part of everyday living! We wouldn't get very far without it!

(e) OF COURSE, IT ALSO GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT FAITH IS ALSO AN ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL PART OF DAILY CHRISTIAN LIFE AND EXPERIENCE!

The Scriptures tell us quite clearly that 'Without faith it ii impossible to please God!' (Hebrews 11:6)

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(f) Faith is one of those very flexible things which is mentioned throughout Scripture in so many ways, and in the New Testament it stands on it's own as one of the GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, as well as part of THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.

GOD GIVEN FAITH

(a) In our text we find that the ability to have faith is given us of God - each one of us has received Our PORTION or degree of faith! (Rom 12:3)

(b) So often the Christian perhaps feels that his faith is meagre and sadly lacking!

But Jesus teaches that it is not the quantity, but rather the quality which is all important - The mustard seed as the tiniest of seeds, but can grow into a mighty tree, giving a home to the birds who otherwise would have eaten that seed, and thought no more about it!

(c) God as it were starts us off1 with the necessary amount of faith to find Him - and then the closer we grow to Him. the more our faith grows!

(d) That MUSTARD TREE OF FAITH IN OUR L1VES can with God's help grow FIVE HUGE BRANCHES!

FIRST BRANCH - BELIEVING FAITH

(a) BELIEVING FAITH is first exercised at salvation, when we believe that Jesus has the power to save us, and goes on to give us the faith that He can do the same for others, no matter how far they my seem to be from the Lord!

AND AS WE LOOK TO THE FUTURE, HOW MUCH WE NEED THAT FAITH, SO THAT WE WILL, WITH CONFIDENCE, INVITE OTHERS TO THE MEETINGS, KNOWING EXPECTANTLY IN OUR HEARTS, THAT THEY CAN FIND THE LORD, THROUGH OUR EFFORTS!

(b) BELIEVING FAITH also gives us confidence that in the direst circumstances, that the Lord has the power to keep us. as the Word says, "Unto Him that is able to keep you from falling!' (Jude 24)

(c) BELIEVING FAITH will give us the ability to PRAY ELIJAH PRAYERS - PRAYERS THAT WILL MOVE THE HAND OF GOD TO DO SOMETHING REAL - PRAYERS THAT WILL CAUSE THE MIRACULOUS TO HAPPEN!-

(d) BELIEVING FAITH gives us the CONFIDENCE THAT GOD WILL STAND BY EVERY PROMISE HE HAS EVER MADE!

As William Booth so aptly put it, "The promises of God are sure, if you only believe!"

(e) It is very easy for the Christian to glibly like a parrot, say, "Yes Lord I believe", with such a shallowness of faith, that they don't even think about what those promises may be!

(f) Take for example the promise of Jesus to the Christian in John 14:12, which we looked at the other week, "The works that I do shall he do also and greater works than these shall he do because I go to my Father."

(g) What Jesus is saying is, "I WANT YOU TO CARRY ON THE WORK I HAVE BEEN DOING, AND I WILL ENABLE YOU TO DO EVEN MORE!"

(h) We said the other Sunday, we've got to face up to the fact that it isn't happening to anywhere near the degree it should be!

Does that mean God is not fulfilling His promise?

Of course not, at mans all too often, that Christians are not taking Him at His Word, believing His promises, and acting on them!

WE MAY SAY WE TAKE GOD AT HIS WORD - BUT DO WE REALLY!!

ARE WE ACTING IN BELIEVING FAITH??
 

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SECOND BRANCH - TRUSTING FAITH

(a) The chorus says "I JUST KEEP TRUSTING MY LORD."

It is one thing to initially believe and have a sort of burst of believing faith in the beginning - but it is another thing entirely, to have TRUSTING FAITH that KEEPS GOING and KEEPS TRUSTING, especially when the going gets tough!

(b) What happens our faith when be. find ourselves in a STORM SITUATION?

(c) Do we lose sight of the hand of God upon our lives1 and start to cry out like the disciples in Mark 4, "Lord save us, we're going to DROWN!"

(d) Near the beginning of our officership, we met a young man in Newry, Northern Ireland, called Brian Yates, who after being saved only a very short time, was pulled into some machinery at work, and was trapped there for a number of hours, not knowing if he was going to be extricated in one piece or not. Yet he did not lose faith, but the whole time, prayed and sang choruses. Even in that situation, he was able to KEEP TRUSTING! He was of course injured, but did come out eventually in one piece, continuing to praise and trust God!

(e) So often it is said, 'Faith that Isn't tested Is worthless/" ITS TRUE!!

(f) When things go wrong - do we react like Garfield the cartoon cat on a bookmark we bought for our Stephen when he was younger. It said, "Why me Lord?"

(g) If finding the Lord was a ticket to the easy life, then everyone would try to becorne Christians for entirely the wrong reasons.

  1. Nowhere in the Scriptures does it give the suggestion that becoming a Christian will make life easier! In fact rather the opposite is true! The Bible Christians we read about, have anything but an easy life! Beaten, flogged,, imprisoned,,,even stoned to death - DOES THAT SOUND LIKE A TICKET TO EASY STREET?? I don't think so !!
(i) What God promises is that when we continue to do His will, our lives fit into an overall plan - a huge jigsaw of happenings in which every little piece, whether dark, bright, or in between, has it's rightful place.

(j)TRUSTING FAITH, says that no matter the present situation in which I find myself, if I continue to trust and walk His pathway, then God's plan will one day come together in completeness, and I will see the end from the beginning, and see why all the horrible things were necessary!

(k) TRUSTING FAITH overcomes the tendency we. all have to ask "WHY ME?' and says quite simply, "WHY NOT ME?"

(1) TRUSTING FAITH never wavers with the circumstances - for it is not dependent on those circumstances for it's existence!

CONCLUSION

(a) Whilst all faith initially comes from God, it is our responsibility to see it is maintained and strengthened, by living close to the Lord, by praying, reading His Word and witnessing.

(b) Jesus his much to say about faith - including the fact that if we exercise it, then THE IMPOSSIBLE CAN BECOME THE USUAL!

(c) It is a fact of life that we become climatised to spiritual inactivity, both in our own lives, and in our Corps or Church!

We get used to the empty seats, and forget that if we have faith - GOD CAN FILL EVERY ONE OF THEM UNTIL WE NEED MORE!!

We get used to no lives being transformed at the Mercy Seat as they were 'in the olden days'.

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(d) My dear Friends1 The Lord IS

"THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER."

(e) Faith does laugh at impossibilities and cry "It shall be done."

THE WORK WHICH GOD CAN DO THROUGH YOU AND ME, IS LIMITED ONLY BY WHAT WE BELIEVE HE CAN DO!

(f) Let us keep ever before us the words of Paul in Eph.3:20 that we have a God Who,

"IS ABLE TO DO EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLV ABOVE ALL WE CAN ASK ORTHINK!"

(g) We must ask ourselves the question, "Is there anything in my life that would hinder His using me to see great things accomplished for His Kingdom?"

(h) If there is, then, FOR GOD'S SAKE, THE SAKE OF HIS KINGDOM, AND THE SOULS OF MEN AND WOMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS, LET US PUT IT RIGHT, SO THAT WE ARE COMPLETELY AT HIS DISPOSAL!

(h) Now I said there were FIVE BRANCHES OF FAITH.

I haven't forgotten about the other three.

They are SUBMISSIVE, OBEDIENT, and LASTING FAITH!

We. will be dealing with them tonight.

SALVATION ARMY SONG BOOK

SONG (TUNE)

132 (87)

Prayer Chorus no 133

733 (180)

chorus no 130

549 (391)

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