I have spent the last couple of weeks talking about faith. We believe and so we speak our faith, we walk by that faith and not by sight, but what is our faith for? It sounds great doesn’t it, to tell people that by faith you can overcome giant’s. Tell me more about how faith will clothe me and feed me, says the homeless person. Faith is awesome, but tell me how it will cure my cancer? Faith is a practical application, “Just Have Faith” is a tired cliché that you do not want to hear when your life has suddenly turned to crap. Am I right? So how do we take on faith as a practical solution. How do we use our faith to achieve the promises of God? The great theologian Charles Spurgeon said “Faith is not a piece of confectionery to be put upon drawing-room tables, or a garment to be worn on Sundays; it is a working principle, to be used in the barn and in the field, in the shop and on the exchange; it is a grace for the housewife and the servant; it is for the House of Commons and for the poorest workshop. I would have the believing cobbler mend shoes religiously, and the tailor make garments by faith, and I would have every Christian buy and sell by faith. Whatever your trade may be, faith is to be taken into your daily calling, and that is alone the true living faith which will bear the practical test. You are not to stop at the shop door and take off your coat and say, “Farewell to Christianity till I put up the shutters again.” That is hypocrisy; but the genuine life of the Christian is the life which we live in the flesh by faith of the Son of God.” Our faith in Jesus is who we are in the world and that faith is often not what we project to the world, the outer and the inner workings of our faith they sometimes do not match. Look at the disciples in the boat after Jesus calms the sea, what do they say? 41 And ⌊they were terribly frightened⌋ and began to say to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” [Mark 4:41 LEB] The disciples faith is in this world, it’s not really a practical faith rather it’s the outward reflection of their expectations of Jesus. We see this all the time in connection with Jesus. The disciples, the Pharisee and others that interact with Him, they want a rerun of King David, they are not expecting God and it terrifies them every time they come up against it. Their outward faith is in an earthly kingdom and their expectations of Jesus are the same. My question to you is do we expect that?
We know that the kingdom is not earthly, we know that Jesus is sovereign Lord over us, but our faith is still a reflection of our earthly expectations. We know better and still we do not have a practical faith. We have no excuses for our expectations. The Lord has told us over and over in plain English what his expectations are. I feel sorry for the disciples because at that time Jesus spoke to everyone in parables and had to decipher them for the disciples, so I imagine that it must have been very difficult for those men. However, I also get the feeling that Jesus was just as frustrated with the them in their bewilderment, because 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” [Mark 4:40] I cannot understand the disciples or maybe I do, and I don’t want to admit it. Because that would me that I still don’t get it. They have been with Jesus for some time now and they have watched him turn water to wine. They have witnessed Him healing paralytics and the disabled, he’s cleansed people with demons and leprosy; in the next chapter He will revive the dead, feed more than 9000 with just a few crumbs and walk on water, while continuing to heal all who come to Him. The disciples were witness to Jesus’ greatest miracles and still they lacked a practical faith. Outwardly they praised Him as the Messiah, Jesus asks Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” [Mark 8:29] But when He does something miraculous they stand in fear and awe, questioning His identity. Their outward faith is not a true reflection of their inner faith, for they have none. It reminds me of Luke chapter 7 when Jesus is talking to the Pharisee about John the Baptist and their refusal of both the messenger and the message. 31 “To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; 34 the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” [Luke 7:31-35] In the end your faith will either vindicate you or convict you, one or the other. As a Christian though you must be very careful because it’s not just your life that can be affected through your faith. 35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. [Mark 4:35-36] Others will follow where you lead, and your faith can have a profound effect on those others that follow you.
We tend to forget that we are not little islands surrounded by vast empty oceans of space. As Christians we are observed, constantly. Everyone looks to see if you walk the walk or if it’s all bullpucky. Especially now where everyone has instant access to everything, everything is recorded and shared on YouTube or Instagram and what’s worse the enemy is lying in wait for us, just waiting for that next big scandal that he can use to discredit the faithful and sometimes I think we make it too easy for him. There’s a reason that millennials consider Christians to be dishonest and hypocritical. It’s because too often our inner faith does not match our outer expressions and much of that has to do with our society and its expectations and truly there is little that we can do about that if humanity is to retain its free will. We must pick our battles. We’re like the poor disciples in the boat as 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. [Mark 4:37] life is like that, constantly beating on our faith, a great storm that relentlessly pounds us down and we become tired and fatigue sets in along with frustration that’s when we go to God. Listen, 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” [Mark 4:37] I read this passage and I hear the condemnation of the disciples, the fear, the lack of faith, the accusation. I see it plainly and somewhat sympathize, remember all these men grew up around the sea, some were fishermen. When we think of storms we think of thunderstorms but on the sea of Galilee it’s not thunderstorms its windstorms that come in suddenly. Think of one of our windstorms minus the dust, with 60 mile an hour winds and you’re in a little sail boat in the middle of the sea of galilee and your terrified because you know that every year people die out there, people just like you, in just the same kind of boat and in just the same circumstances. This isn’t something that happens rarely it’s a common way to die during this time and it’s your turn. Their faith was overcome by fear, they let that fear dictate their expectations. I can only imagine the resignation and pain that this statement would cause Jesus. Had they not already seen his power over nature and still they doubted Him. None the less 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. There was a dead calm, this to me is the miracle. If you’ve ever been out on the water after a storm, even after the wind dies down the water remains choppy and the waves continue to be dangerous for some time after. For the wind and the sea to become still this more than anything shows Jesus power over the natural world, shows His power as the creator of this world.
Practical faith requires us to be committed to God and the word of God, it requires obedience to that word and it requires us to follow where he leads, to give up this world for the next. Peace, be still! So, in faith I leave the final words to God, a promise and a question for you to answer. I am reading from the Contemporary English Version of [Luke 18:7-8 CEV] First the promise, 7 Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night? Won’t he be concerned for them? 8 He will surely hurry and help them. Now the question, but when the Son of Man comes, will he find on this earth anyone with faith?