Focused Faith.

Points Covered: Focused faith is an amazing sermon that gives us a two-pronged approach to focus our faith. If you are going through a trial, this is God’s word to overcome every obstacles of life.

1 Timothy 1:18-19 18Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.

A lot of people have shipwrecked their faith and live defeated lives. Every day we have a choice to either trust in God or to be overwhelmed with our circumstances. Remember we are always in a faith battle. Each day and every circumstance in life is a unique challenge, we either win or lose. We either operate by fear or by faith.

One thing we must understand is that fear and faith have something in common. They both ask us to believe something is going to happen that we cannot see. Fear says believe the negative, faith says believe the positive. So how do we have focused faith?

I would say keeping strong in trouble, focused faith is a two-pronged approach: Guard and Build. Any country that protects its boundaries has a two-way approach: One, it stations its troops in the borders so that the defence system is tight at the same time, the country builds its military supply and weapons so that they are ready for a battle. Likewise, we are in a spiritual battle. We need to build our defence as well as build our resources at the same time to fight a good fight of faith.

1. Guard.

Guarding our faith is to guard the areas where the enemy can attack us.

a. Guard your mind.

Be disciplined in your thought life. Philippians 4:6-7 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

AMP Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. In simple terms if you allow that fear to grip your heart and mind, your life will be affected. Let faith come into your thinking.

See what Job said: Job 3:25-26 25What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. 26I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.

Job had a problem; when everything was going good, he was afraid and worried all the time. He worried about everything including his children. He was afraid they would sin and curse God. The result of Job’s fear was that what he feared came upon him.

Illustration: There was a time in my career where I was working at a particular cooperate job and they wanted to downsize. Twelve of us were less than a year in that office, so the management decided to reduce the freshers to 5. I was very affected. I am at my dream job, getting a fair bit of salary but all of a sudden, my future seems very uncertain. I would not get proper sleep at night. Every morning when I woke up the first thought that came into my mind is that you might well be defeated. I lost my peace, my sleep, and the joy of life and work.

That is the way fear works, it will try to dominate your thought life. If you allow it fear will keep you awake at night. Fear will steal your joy. Fear will steal your enthusiasm. I was so tempted to be worried, go around with that sorrow in me.

But one day a Godly thought came into me, “Shine, if you worry about this and if you keep worrying about all the reasons why it is not going to work out then, you are allowing that to come to pass. But if you trust God and use that same energy to believe instead of worry then God will turn it around and cause it to work out to your advantage.” Soon I got a new perspective. I realized that worry and fear does not just remain in our thoughts, it allows the negative to come to pass. I made a decision from that day that I am not going to worry about it anymore. When I was tending to get discouraged I used that thought as a reminder saying, “God is in control and God is doing something that I cannot see had focused faith in God.” The result of trusting God is that I stayed the longest in that company among the 12 of us, and when I left that job, I was leading 2 teams.

Today we have so many opportunities to worry and live in fear. People are worried about the economy, about health, children, family etc. God is saying to you what he said to me, “Trust me, stay hopeful; I will bring you out better than you are now.”

In Matthew 9 as Jesus was walking out of his own town two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” Matthew 9:28-29 28When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. 29Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; and their sight was restored.

They blind men had all the reasons to worry. They were first ignored by Jesus, they had to take people’s help to get to the house where Jesus was now but deep within they had great faith. If you can just believe that we are serving a great God and he can take you out of your situation. Jesus said, “According to your faith it will be done to you.” So, use your energy to trust God.

Joke: I heard a funny incident where young woman went to the supermarket and got some groceries. On the way back to the car she saw some gunmen walking around suspiciously. She kept the luggage at the back of the car and put some behind her seat and was leaning forward to take the water bottle. Suddenly, she heard a loud noise and felt something hit the back of her head. She thought she had been shot. She reached up and felt something what she thought was her brains come out. She initially passed out; she woke up a few minutes later and sat there motionless for quite sometime holding the back of her head. A man passed by and noticed something was wrong and things scattered in the car, called the police. The police came and asked her to open her car door. She said she could not, she had been shot and she was holding her brains in. The police broke open the window and they discovered a soda bottle cover had exploded and in the process it broke open a biscuit cover. The dove of the biscuit and the cap of the bottle had hit the back of her head and she thought she was holding her brains.

Do not let your imagination run wild in the wrong direction. Use your energy to think in faith, not worry.

What if you are in faith and see defeat? You can still trust God because he is in control over everything, if one door closes he can open another door. So do not let that fear grip you. Today, you may be in defeat but let your hearts soar with great expectations of faith in the Lord.

Well once we guard our mind, it is important that we reciprocate it in our actions.

b. Guard your action.

We are called believers, people of faith; but many times our actions are an expression of fear. We panic and do many things in fear.

Abraham believed and followed God but he never received the promised child for a long time. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months turned into years. It has been 10 years and there is no sign of a child. He found no answer to his prayer and obedience to God. On one side time seems to be running out for a child on the other side God is silent.

What would you do where God has promised you something and you have done everything from your side to claim that promise, but you don’t find a breakthrough?

Let’s see what Abraham did. Genesis 16:1-2 1Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

Sarai loved Abraham and knew he longed for a child. She decided to make a sacrifice no women would make. She responds with an idea, an idea not from prayer or faith but her own. Fear would have gripped their thoughts because Sara was old; her childbearing capacity is well over and what if over the years Abraham too loses his childbearing capacity? Abraham should have prayed about this idea. Eventually fear won the battle; Abraham acted in fear and had a son through Hagar. We know Abraham paid terribly for his mistake and they are paying even to this day. Remember, God’s promises are never based on our natural capacity. Remember Moses in Egypt as a young man. He acted in haste.

On the flipside, if you look into the life of Abraham, he was not a man of fear all through his life. Eventually a son, Isaac, was born to Abraham and Sarah and sometime later came the greatest test of Abraham’s life. In Genesis 22, God told him to travel to a distant mountain and offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Put yourself in Abraham’s place. What conflicting emotions must have raged through his mind? But by now, Abraham trusted and relied on God. He learned to act in faith.

See what Apostle Paul wrote in his epistle regarding Abraham. Romans 4:20-21 “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”

We know the story of Abraham. When Abraham laid his son Isaac on the altar to sacrifice, God intervened at the last moment: Genesis 22:12 Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. The result of Abraham’s faith is God’s faithfulness of bringing a generation of faith through him.

When we study the life of Abraham, we can see that Abraham’s life was not one unbroken catalog of faith. There were ups and downs, moments of worry, doubt, indecision and frustration. Sometimes he acted in fear, sometimes in faith. Here is the lesson for us, whenever Abraham acted in faith, he saw great deliverances, but when he was given into fear he terribly failed.

God is telling us this morning not to panic and act in fear. Even though in reality things are looking negative, continue walking in God’s call and His will because God has the capacity to fulfill what he has promised in your life.

c. Guard your influence.

Associate with people of faith. One similarity between faith and fear is that both are contagious. If we are around people who are always complaining, discouraging, negative, and worrying; that spirit can come on us. We can catch other people’s emotions just like we can catch a cold.

Illustration: There was a study done where a group of people received a mild electrical shock and their brain waves were measured from the time they heard they were going to get the shock to the time it was over. What is interesting is that they had another group in the room that was just there to watch the process. They measured their brain waves as well. Even though they were not getting the shock they experienced the same fears as the people that were getting the shock. The researchers’ conclusion was that just seeing other people’s fears is enough to make us afraid.

If you friends are constantly complaining, worrying, negative; you are going to be the same soon. If you stay with them long there are chances that you are going to catch that fear in you.

Do you remember the time when Moses sent spies into the Promised Land? God had promised them the land and Moses sent 12 people to survey the land. All 12 of them were positive about the quality of the land, they loved the city, they loved the fruit of the land but when it came to actually possessing the promise except Joshua and Caleb, the remaining 10 of them had a negative report. Soon the negative report spread the entire Israelites and everyone was filled with fear. The people finally wanted to stone the ones with the positive report and get back to Egypt.

It is easy to associate with negative people, it is easy to associate with fear but do you know what happened to the people who acted in fear and wanted to go back to Egypt, all perished in the desert. The people of faith entered and possessed the Promised Land. Associate with people of faith.

Illustration: I heard about a man whose friends decided to play a trick on him. He went to work one morning feeling great and happy. When he walked him the receptionist said, “Are you feeling okay today?” He said, “Yes, I feel great, why?” She said, “I do not know, you look a little bit different.” He did not think about it. He went to his office after some time a coworker came in and said, “Are you tired, you are looking dull.” He said, “Well I feel fine!” A few minutes later he started thinking maybe I am tired. Another man came by, they talked for some time and then he said, “Do you have a fever, you really look dull?” The guy rolled up his sleeves, put on the fan said, “I am feeling a little uneasy.” Another man came after sometime and said, “You look terrible today, what is wrong with you?” By lunch this man went back home on sick leave.

That is the power of suggestion; this is the power of negativity. If we do not guard our mind and be careful about what we allow in, we can be talked into a whole lot of things. I know when we are living in this world we cannot always avoid such people. But do not believe their negative report; believe the report of the Lord.

You need not be like what others feel about you. I do not want you to go home today with a negative report that you cannot make it, you are not good enough. But the Lord’s report says, you are blessed, you can make it, you are going to be great.

Focused faith has to be guarded – Guard your mind, guard your action and guard your influence. Secondly, focused faith has to be built. I am going to quickly give you 5 ways to build your faith.

2. Build.

Ways to build your faith.

a. Read the Bible.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. People who are most prone to have their faith shipwrecked have not diligently schooled themselves in the word of God. How you react to your situation purely depends on your respond to God’s word. When the strong winds of life blow a person apart, one not rooted in the world blows away, however, the one rooted in the word will bow, let the wind pass away, and rise up again.

b. Pray.

Prayer is a vital tool for us to build our faith and trust God. We need to pray in the Holy Spirit and if we want to pray an effective prayer, we need to know God’s word first. Luke 7:5-6 5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

James 1:6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

c. Fellowship.

Many people when they go through trials stop all kind of fellowship. They do not come to church, they don’t talk to friends and they get very isolated. You are giving the enemy the total control of your battle. Friends when you come to church, your faith is encouraged. You hear God’s word, you hear a testimony, you talk with a believer, that fellowship builds our faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

d. Worship.

Faith increases when we worship God in the midst of our trials. When we go to the book of Habakkuk, the children of Israel incurred great loses. That particular year they had no crops or cattle. People are literally starving and yet in bad economy. In the midst of all this see the rejoicing of God’s servant: Habakkuk 3:17-19 17Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

In the midst of all the negativity that is happening Habakkuk is praising God and expecting God to turn around things. He never lost his joy. Habakkuk was expecting God’s best in his worst.

e. Remember your promise.

1 Timothy 1:18-19 18Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.

When you go through the negative situations, remember all the promises God has made for you. His promises are yes and amen. 2 Corinthians 1:20 No matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.

God will fulfill his promises. Expect great things from God. Have focused faith in Christ.

Conclusion: Always expect God’s best whenever you are faced with “bad news”. Our challenges are no match for God. From healing the sick to raising the dead, from joblessness to court cases, from poverty to family noting is impossible by God. What man deems impossible is always possible with God. Therefore, expect great things from God.