How to Develop a Strong Faith 9/17/00

Psalm 27

JESUS CHRIST wants to enable you to stretch yourself spiritually and expand the circumference of your faith.

On His Earthly walk He greatly admired faith. After a woman had exercised admirable faith, He said to her “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (Luke 7:50).

Genuine faith begins when a person finally decides he or she isn’t God and happily acknowledges submission to the living God.

Such faith is assuring, insuring, and enduring.

Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, and faith looks up.

Faith helps us walk fearlessly, run confidently, and live victoriously.

Is yours a growing faith? If not the reason may be the same as the little boy who fell out of bed. When asked why he said, “I don’t know. I guess I stayed too close to where I got in.”

Have you stayed too close to where you got into the Christian faith? We are exhorted in God’s Word:

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).

“As new born babes (we are to) desire the sincere milk of the word, that we may grow…” (I Peter 2:2).

Are you growing in your faith walk with Christ? Pick a time in the not-to-distant past. One, two, or three years ago. Now, inventory yourself related to these questions:

How does my prayer life compare now to then?

Has my systematic giving to the cause of Christ changed?

“The Living Bible” translation of Deuteronomy 14: 23 sets God’s standard and explains why He set it: “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives.”

Consider the act of giving. First, you write the date on the check. That reminds you that you are a time bound creature with a limited amount of time in which to act.

Next, you write the name of the recipient. When giving to God you use a pseudonym for God, the name of His church.

Here is where the challenge comes. You now write the amount. At this moment you are more than a person with a checkbook in hand. You are a Moses with a rod in your hand. Will you yield it to God. You are a David selecting a stone for your sling. You are a little child with a sack lunch Jesus needs to feed 5,000. You are a Simon Peter with one foot in the boat and one on the water. Will you step out by faith?

When you make an entry on that check you are not just entering an amount to be given you are acknowledging God as the owner of everything.

In the left hand lower corner of the check you now enter what it is for. Perhaps it is to help child grow spiritually. Maybe, it is to help reach the lost. It might be to pay operating expenses that the church might continue to operate. It might be for an expression of thanks for what the church has done for you and your family. In that lower left
hand corner might note it is to benefit you. Giving it shows you have cut yet another cord that binds you to the things of this world.

Are you growing in your faith? Don’t stay too close to where you got in.

Has your loyalty to the bride of Christ, the local church, improved?

Faith is the basis of life. Some persons think it is a sign of weakness. It is rather an indication of strength. Thomas Edison said he never conducted an experiment that did not begin with faith.

Have you ever driven on one of America’s freeways in a major metropolitan area at peak driving time? You have faith.

Have you ever gone shopping when there is a mall-wide sale? You have faith.

Have you ever gone on a date, taken a mate, driven in the rain, flown on a plane, bought or sold an item on credit? You have faith.

Have you ever eaten in a fast-food outlet where you don’t even know the cook, see its preparation, or know its source? You have faith.

Have you ever gone through a bank drive- through, teller window where they have that smoked glass behind which you can see only blurred images and put your pay check in a pneumatic tube that sucked it out of sight? You have faith.

Have you ever gone to a doctor you didn’t know, been given a prescription you couldn’t read, taken it to a pharmacist you couldn’t see, and taken the medicine provided? You have faith.

Faith is merely confidence in God’s character.

In our uncertain times stabilizing faith is needed. An uncertain economy and an international crisis coupled with all your personal challenges makes a strong faith all the more important.

Faith gives us the courage to face the present with confidence, and the future with expectancy.

Compacted in the 27th Psalm are found sequential steps involved in developing a strong faith. Let’s dig them out like a miner who has just struck a major pay-load vein or rich ore. Each is essential to the other and none are possible without the first.

I. SALVATION “The Lord is my light and my salvation, Whom shall I fear?” (Verse 1)

“The Lord” is a reference to Jesus Christ. For us it is a clear prophetic reference to Immanuel, God with us. It identifies the virgin born, sinless God incarnate who shed His blood for our sins on Calvary. Whose substitutionary work was honored by God the Father Who granted Him a victorious resurrection and valedictory ascension back into heaven.

The Scripture says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved…” (Acts 16:31).

It is further asserted: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life…” (John 3:36).

As a young professor at Oxford in England, C.S. Lewis was an outstanding author and one of the greatest literary geniuses in literary criticism in the world. By any standard he was an outstanding scholar. He was also an atheist.

That is, he was until he went to Tinturn Abbey, immortalized by the great poet William Wordsworth. The Abbey stands on the banks of the river Wye. The walls are in tact, but it has no roof, windows or floor. The floor is a carpet of green grass growing as it can only in Britain.

The genius, C. S. Lewis said it was there in Tinturn Abbey one day with the sunlight falling through the arches onto the green grass he experienced inexpressible joy and “All of a sudden I found the essence of the universe in Jesus Christ.” Is Jesus the center of your universe?

Ephesians 2: 8 – 10 gives the steps regarding forgiveness and salvation. It is God’s grace that initiates the act to which we respond by faith. It is not of works.

Even in spite of this clear insight from God’s Word there are those who want to try to work and deserve their salvation. It can’t be done. Let me illustrate.

Suppose a person were to go to Washington D.C. and become captivated by the impressive Washington Monument which is made of marble from Georgia. Assume that this wealthy visitor were to ask a government representative about buying the monument. The rep would instantly state that it couldn’t be done. Why? For three reasons. One, it is not for sale. Two, you don’t have enough resources to purchase it, if it were for sale. Three, as a citizen it is already yours for the taking.

Those who would seek to work and earn their salvation need to realize the same. Salvation isn’t for sale. If it were, none of us could do enough good works to earn it. Likewise, it is already ours for the taking.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He removed every charge the Father had against us and every claim Satan made of us. Salvation is available to all who by faith trust Christ.

Salvation is actually a person. Note, “The Lord is my salvation.” Can you insert that personal pronoun “my.”

“The Lord is the strength of my life…” (Vs. 1b)

This has to do with eternal security. All stability in time has to do with security in eternity.

Once a person enters into union with Christ as Savior they are in eternal union with Him and nothing can get them out of that union. Don’t take my word for this important principle. God has said it. (READ: Romans 8: 1 & 38, 39).

One might draw a wrong conclusion from this correct principle and say, “If I have a lock on heaven, that is, it’s a sure thing, then I can do anything I want.” Such a person overlooks the principle of the loving discipline given by our gracious God to His disobedient children in time as described in Hebrews 12: 6.

The correct conclusion to be reached regarding eternal security is that if I am heaven bound but God has left me here, there must be a purpose in me being here. Life thus takes on meaning.

My strength is not in myself but “the Lord.” According to Jude 24 He is able to keep me “from falling and will present me faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”

II. STUDY “One thing have I desired of the Lord” (Vs.4)

The house of the Lord to which he made reference was the tabernacle. People in that era could not read. Therefore, the Lord devised symbols to teach them great doctrinal truths. Every item in the house of the Lord, the tabernacle, symbolized some great truth. Today we can read; and the Lord teaches us these truths through His written Word, the Bible.

His “desire” is comparable to our hunger for a better understanding of God’s Word. This requires study.

The expression “To behold the beauty of the Lord” means to meditate on His graciousness. To meditate on means to fill your mind with the thoughts of God’s grace.

The Psalmist then says he wants to “inquire in His temple.” The word “inquire” meant to investigate. It is a further reference to searching God’s Word.

If you want faith to face today’s tests, you must study God’s Word.

III. SECURITY “In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion” (Vs. 5)

The “pavilion” was the outer court in the tabernacle. To enter it was to have the potential of what was ahead. For our application it is analogous of the promises of God. The expression “In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion” is comparable to saying, “The Word of God comforts me.”

To say he wanted to “dwell in the house of the Lord” (vs. 4) was the same as our saying, “I want to study God’s Word.”

The tabernacle was built in an era when few people could read. Therefore, symbols were used to communicate great truths. In front of our worship center is a lovely fountain. It is a composite of several symbols intended to communicate certain truths. In the outer court of the tabernacle were several very special items used to communicate some basic principles we read of in the Bible. The items in the “house of the Lord” taught them basic doctrines.

There was one door indicating there was one way to God. We now know that to be Christ.

There was a veil between the holy of holies and the court. The holy of holies symbolized the place God dwelt. The court where human beings gathered. This speaks of the incarnation of Christ, the God/man.

The golden altar was where incense was burned signifying prayer going up to God. It’s primary purpose was to depict the intercessory work to be done by Christ. It was an encouragement to prayer.

The brazen altar was the place of sacrifice. Every Old Testament sacrifice was intended to depict the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.

The mercy seat silently spoke of the propitiation by Christ. There is a big theological term, propitiation. It meant to satisfy the standards of God and thereby make peace between God and man. When there was a lack of rain native Americans did a rain dance. It was suppose to be a propitiation that appeased the gods and result in rain. In old Tarzan movies when native tribes were in trouble they would sacrifice a chicken or goat, or something. Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the earth to serve as our propitiation. He made peace between us and our God.

To develop faith for our hour of crisis memorize His Word.

“The battle is the Lord’s” (I Sam. 17: 47).

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).

Further reason is given for casting your cares on Him in I Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care on Him, for He cares for you.”

IV. SPIRIT GUIDANCE “The Lord is my Light” (Vs. 1)

Christ is our illuminating source. He indwells the believer in the person of His Holy Spirit. Thus our stability is within us. It is not dependent upon externals. Money is an external. Friends are admirable externals.

Many people try to find their stability in externals. For these reasons their emotions ride a roller coaster with more ups and downs than the Georgia Mind Bender.

Verses 2, 3 and 6 refer to suffering caused by people.

Verses 7 and 9 inform us there are sufferings caused by discipline.

Verse 10 speaks of suffering caused by loved ones.

Verse 12 notes even another form of suffering. It is verbal abuse.

I Peter 1:7 (READ)

What can be done with our misfortunes?



Have you ever been where the Psalmist was when he wrote: “I would have lost heart…”? This means I would have fallen apart, I couldn’t otherwise cope. The thing that stabilized him was preoccupation with the Lord not circumstances.

“When you said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, will I seek’ … I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27: 8, 13).

Keep focused on Christ. Make Him your standard.

“Wait” translates the Hebrew KIWAH. It is a word that draws a picture for us. It describes starting with one thread and weaving a rope. Every experience with the Lord is a thread in the tie that binds you closer to Him.