WORDS OF JESUS – “HAVE FAITH IN GOD”
By Pastor Robert L. Donnelly
Mark 11:20 – “And Jesus answering said to them, ‘Have faith in God’.”
Let us turn our attention now to the Word of the LORD for another lesson on the WORDS of JESUS. Last meditation we considered something of the meaning of the word “Repent,” so for today it seems most fitting that we should spend a little while with the word “Faith” – especially since this meditation is dedicated to teenagers everywhere, for there is nothing that will prove of greater benefit to young people, who will soon be starting out in life for themselves, than to have a settled and abiding faith in the Almighty God, the Maker of heaven and earth.
There is nothing like faith in God to hold the young student –steady in high school and college, when so many text books and teachers direct all their arguments to try and prove that the Bible isn’t true, that God isn’t personal, that heaven real, and that sin doesn’t matter. There is nothing like faith in God to keep the young person – clean in a world where every sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is practiced in every city in our land; and there is every allurement, inducement, and enticement to bathe in the moral cesspools, and drink distilled damnation.
There is nothing like faith in God to keep young people –strong in an atomic age, when nations are gripped either by war-fear or war-fever. And there is nothing like faith in God to equip young people to fill their place in life, and make their contribution to the well-being of their community, the strength of their nation, and the good of the world in which they live.
ROGER BABSON, an American statistician, declared some time ago that every institution that we have in our land, for the good of humanity, has had its origin either in praying men, or in the children of praying parents. That is why Jesus said in Mark 11:22: “Have faith in God.”
—is the anchor of the soul that enables one to safely ride out the storm of life.
—prevents the soul from drifting with the tides of human fashions, and saves from being engulfed in the whirlpools of human passions.
—is the great stimulus that inspires the soul of man to attempt the impossible and succeed.
—puts iron in the will, steel in the backbone, silver in the voice, and gold in the heart.
—in God gives the courage of the lion, the meekness of the dove, and the endurance of an ox.
—is dead to doubts, dumb to discouragements, blind to impossibilities. It knows nothing but success.
—lifts its hands up through threatening clouds, lays hold on Him who has all power in heaven & earth.
—makes the “up-look” good, the “out-look” bright, the “in-look” favourable, and the future glorious.
This is what ELLA WHEELER WILCOX was talking about when she said:
I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I shall believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil worketh good for me;
And though I weep because those sails are battered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered,
I trust in Thee.
I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white Realm above;
I shall believe it is an all-wise Love
Which has refused those things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardour of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.
I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive;
I shall believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and tremble with my crosses,
I yet shall see, through my severest losses,
The greater gain.
I will not doubt; well-anchored in the faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strong its courage that it will not fail
To breast the mighty unknown sea of Death.
Oh, may I cry when body parts with spirit,
I do not doubt, so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.
For a definition of faith, nothing could be more concise than Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, faith gives substance to the things we hope for, so that we act upon the conviction of their reality, and thus it becomes the evidence of things not seen. So in its final analysis, faith is an act, as the Apostle James says, ‘You show me your faith without works and I’ll show you my faith by my works’ (James 2:18). It would be utterly impossible for one to have true Bible faith and not show it, for it is an active, energizing force which must manifest itself by some outward indication.
Come with me now to the Gospel of Mark 7:27-50. It is the story of the Syrophoenician woman and her afflicted daughter. There are many lessons of faith in this short account, but we will have time for only two or three. First of all, I would like you to see that this mother had faith in a person – not in a theory, – not in a doctrine, – not in an institution or organization; but in a Person, and that Person none other than the LORD Jesus Christ. And before we go further, we must point out we are instructed to have faith in God and in His Son.
Reading this same account in Matthew 15:21-28, we are told that the disciples besought the LORD to send her away, she is just a nuisance; but her faith is not affected in the least by the unsympathetic attitude of the disciples. After all, she is not asking help of them. It is the LORD who must help her. Her case is beyond the help of man.
What a difference it would make to so many people if they would fasten their faith in Christ alone. How many people there are who stop praying because some disciple has not treated them right. How many people quit coming to church because some person has injured them. Others turn away from the LORD altogether because of a grievance against one of his followers. Utterly unreasonable, of course, but still it happens. But not in this case that we are studying.
She reminds me of a lady I read of some time ago. She had quite a serious disagreement with her pastor, and left him quite indignantly. The following Sunday the pastor was rather surprised to see her in the congregation and told her so, when he was shaking hands with the people at the close of the service. She looked at him more indignant than ever, and said, “Indeed, and I’ve no quarrel with the LORD!”
Now let us see the boldness of faith. This woman is a foreigner, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, having no natural claim nor argument. All natural circumstances are against her, but that is where faith shines the brightest. Faith after all has nothing to do with circumstances. It has only to do with the Master of all circumstances, our Sovereign LORD. Faith generates boldness. Search the Scriptures, and you will find in almost every instance that, when great faith was exercised, great boldness accompanied it. Fear is one of the greatest weapons Satan has, to keep us from really launching out in faith on the Word of God. Perfect love casts out all fear, and faith generates courage.
Notice, now, the importunity of faith. That is a big word, but its meaning is very simple. Literally, it means barefacedness, or shamelessness. Persisting to believe in the face of all reasonable efforts to turn her aside. Here is one of the most outstanding characteristics of faith. It still hangs on despite the most discouraging reception our prayer seems to have. What a pity that so many people begin to seek God with all earnestness and sincerity, and because the answer does not immediately come they give up, they move away and leave no forwarding address. I once heard Dr. John Brown, of John Brown University, state that “many people don’t sit in one place long enough to warm the eggs, let alone to hatch anything.”
Let me point out just here that persistence in prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance to the point where He will at last be prepared to give. It is, rather, the building up of our own expectancy to the point where we will at last be able to receive.
Finally, let us see in this story not only the boldness of faith, the importunity of faith, but also the ingenuity of faith. The only direct answer she had yet gotten from the LORD was one that to the natural mind would indicate that nothing could be done for such as she. Jesus said, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs.” But faith takes this reply that is so discouraging and turns it inside out and claims it as a further argument that this need must be met. She said, “Truth, LORD, but the little dogs under the table have a right to the children’s crumbs.” No wonder Jesus said, “O woman, great is thy faith! Be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” Amen. Let me encourage you, my listener, to pray on. Your case is not hopeless as long as there is a God in heaven.
Before we leave the air and leave this subject, I must make it clear that this faith, which Jesus told us to have, is not a product of human reason, nor is it generated by human logic –it is a gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 says, “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not or works lest any man should boast.” It is God’s confidence in Himself, that He will do the thing that He said He would do. It is a fruit of the Spirit; for we read in Galatians 5:22, that Faith, among other things, is the fruit of the Spirit.
It is the particular ministry of the Spirit of God to impart Faith to the hungry, needy heart. Many a person has come to a Gospel meeting without God, without faith and without hope; but the Spirit of God is active; in response to the prayers of the people of God, and as the Word is preached with its exceeding great and precious promises, faith wells up in the sinner’s heart.
He is persuaded – that God’s Word is true, – that Christ died for his transgressions, – that He rose again for his justification, – that He ever lives to make intercession, and –that He is abundantly able to give him salvation. And before the lights go out and the meeting is closed, there is a new name written down in glory: –the lost has been found, –the dead has come to life again, –the sheep that was lost has been brought back to the fold. “And all through the mountains thunder-riven, and up from the rocky steep, there arose a glad cry to the gates of heaven, ‘Rejoice, I have found my sheep!’ And the angels echoed around the throne, ‘Rejoice, for the LORD brings back His own.’” Amen.
THE NINETY AND NINE – By ELIZABETH C. CLEPHANE, 1830–1869
There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold.
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare.
Away from the tender Shepherd's care.
Away from the tender Shepherd's care.
"LORD, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?"
But the Shepherd made answer: "This of Mine
Has wandered away from Me;
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep."
But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the LORD passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry,
Sick and helpless and ready to die;
Sick and helpless and ready to die.
"LORD, whence are those blood drops all the way
That mark out the mountain's track?"
"They were shed for one who had gone astray
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back."
"LORD, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?"
"They are pierced tonight by many a thorn;
They are pierced tonight by many a thorn."
And all through the mountains, thunder riven
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of Heaven,
"Rejoice! I have found My sheep!"
And the angels echoed around the throne,
"Rejoice, for the LORD brings back His own!
Rejoice, for the LORD brings back His own!"