There is a legend of a small town in which there were no liquor stores or nightclubs. Eventually, however, a nightclub was built right on Main Street. One of the churches, in the area, was so disturbed that they conducted several all-night prayer meetings, and asked the Lord to burn down the nightclub.
Lightning struck the nightclub a short time later, and it was completely destroyed by fire. The owner, knowing how the Believers had prayed, sued the church for the damages.
His attorney claimed that their prayers had caused the lightning and fire. The church people, on the other hand, hired a lawyer and contested the charges.
During the trial the judge declared, "It’s the opinion of this court that the owner of the nightclub is the one who really believes in prayer while the church members do not!"
Here is a situation where people who don’t have faith will find God to be faithful! And yet, those who claim to have faith really don’t.
Can we see this as a good, or fair, example of faith in people who go to church? The answer is yes because there is a very similar story to this in the Book of Acts, chapter 12.
The story has it that the Apostle James had been arrested and killed by King Herod. Later, Peter was also arrested by King Herod and was locked up in a jail with 16 soldiers watching over him. Peter was chained between two of the soldiers and it looked impossible for him to escape.
But how many of you know that our Lord loves to deal with impossible situations and make them possible?
The story in Acts 12 tells us that the church folks were "earnestly praying" for Peter to be released. It was an all night Holy Ghost prayer meeting. But what they didn’t expect to happen was that Peter would be miraculously set free from his chains.
Peter was even escorted by an angel out of the jail. He later showed up at the front door of this all night prayer meeting, and was met at the door by a servant girl named Rhoda. She was so surprised and excited that she forgot to let Peter inside and ran to tell everyone that he was set free.
You know what happened - this God fearing bunch of prayer intercessors told Rhoda, “You are out of your mind.”
I would suggest that what happened in this story is all too commonplace in many churches today. That is, a church will pray and pray for a miracle to take place and then when it happens…they don’t believe it.
One of the most common prayers in a church is for revival to break out. And just like Acts 12, the Holy Ghost shows up at the front door of the church, and some folks don’t want to believe what has happened.
The point is this -
1. God wants us to pray in faith. 2. We need to be expecting something whenever we do pray the prayer of faith.
Folks, faith makes things happen.
Faith makes -
· Heaven real · God Real · Life real-ly exciting.
But we can’t have it both ways.
If we are going to pray in faith, we gotta’ believe it’s gonna’ happen!
Our Key Verse makes this simple.
And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."
That’s what the Apostles asked Jesus and that should be our prayer, also!
The reason why the Apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith was because of what Jesus had just told them. Jesus had just told them to forgive their brother 7 times in one day. They had a hard time with that.
And likewise, we do too. I know people who can’t forgive a person 7 times in a lifetime, much less 7 times in one day. What Jesus was teaching to them (and is teaching to us today) is very difficult for us to learn.
If we are ever going to understand all that Jesus wants and expects from us, we are going to have to
INCREASE OUR FAITH!
Otherwise we aren’t going to make it.
Our faith needs to be increased so that whenever we come to a crisis, in our life, we will be ready for it.
But that’s not easy, is it?
Why is faith so difficult for us to have sometimes? One reason is because we are always loosing faith in people.
Example: Someone will promise to meet us somewhere and they don’t show up. No phone call. No explanation. No apology.
Our response is, “Well I’ll never have faith in what they say ever again…”
You see we all know what it means to loose faith in a person, and so naturally we find it easy to think that God might not be faithful, either.
We say, “After all, God didn’t answer my prayer last time. God allowed this terrible thing to happen to me.”
So now we have to ask Jesus just like the Apostles asked,
“Lord, increase our faith.”
Did you notice what Jesus said next?
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed…”
I think that means – we don’t …have faith any larger than a mustard seed.
Are you getting the picture yet? We need Jesus to INCREASE OUR FAITH.
We really don’t have much faith. Do we? We need God to help us.
Let’s face the real problem, folks. We lack having real faith. Don’t we?
Sometimes we have more faith -in our car starting than we have in God answering our prayer.
· In our best friend helping us out than we do in Jesus making the difference for us.
· In getting a weekly paycheck to pay our bills than we do in paying our tithes.
· In our doctor diagnosing and treating our illness than we do in the God that created us and gives us our every breath.
Don’t take any of this as condemnation. Just face the cold hard facts. We need GOD to INCREASE OUR FAITH!
Jesus has made us lots of promises we need to have faith in. Here’s one:
I’ll never leave you nor forsake you!”
Right about now someone may be thinking to themselves,
“Hmm, I need to start working on this”
No, that’s not how it works.
You can’t buy faith, and you can’t muster it up on your own.
Faith belongs to God. You can only get His faith from Him.
The Apostles said to Jesus, “Increase our faith.” It always comes back to Jesus.
Faith is not a philosophy, or a mind bending concept, or a logic of reasoning.
It is simply a gift from God Almighty.
There are some disciplines you can start with to make you more aware of faith. Prayer, fasting, meditation, worship and Bible study, are a few.
Regardless we will know when God begins to INCREASE OUR FAITH.
· We will have a better understanding of the things of God.
· We will question and doubt God less during your hardships and struggles.
Church, you will find that it is easier to have faith in your life when things are going right for you. But you will know when your faith is increasing - Especially when you begin to simply ask Father God what it is He wants you to learn in your crisis.
It is in those crisis’ that you will draw closer to the Lord, instead of being angry with Him.
We do know that the Apostles did increase in their faith after the resurrection of Christ.
They stopped running in fear from those who persecuted them.
Instead they trusted and had faith in the Lord and were willing to suffer and die for Him as He died for them.
Jesus said that if we “…have faith as small as a mustard seed…”
This tells us that this is not about the quantity of our faith in God.
Rather, it is about the quality of our faith that really matters to God.
Jesus talked about moving trees and mountains, but he did not intend this to be interpreted literally.
You can and will do the impossible with the faith that God gives you.
Remember. God never expects us to do anything that He won’t be there to make it happen for us.
And perhaps the most difficult thing we will ever have to do, as a Christian, will be to forgive someone.
Faith needs to be increased in us so that we can be more forgiving, and more like Christ, Himself.
Faith empowers us to do the impossible, and the unbelievable.
Living in the faith realm, we can accomplish what otherwise would be considered impossible.
If we were honest with one another, we would admit that sometimes our faith has become complacent with what God has for us.
I believe it is time we all take a long look at what God wants for us.
I can see that walking in faith can be like going up a staircase.
Are we challenged to the next step in what God is doing?
Benediction As God has poured God’s love on you, go now in peace to bring God’s love to all people. Rest in the confidence of God’s abiding presence with you and be joyful in your service to God. Go in peace and love. AMEN.