Faith and Humility
Faith and Humility
Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White
Sunday 1st December, 2019
Every month or so, the National Leader of our INC movement – Ross Abraham – sends through a short video with a timely encouragement for Pastors – something that God has obviously been speaking to him about personally as well. I love Ross’s heart – it’s the heart of our movement.
The timing was perfect as I was seeking God about our message for this morning. I had it on my heart already – for a number of different reasons – that this life of ministry and building the church together, needed some clarity in why and how we do what we do… and to clarify what undergirds and supports all the activity – all the time and effort – all the commitment that comes from every one of us – because if you’re even here this morning – you are investing yourself heavily in this incredible thing called the church.
Of course we have faith in Jesus Christ. And ultimately – He is building His church – it’s His idea – it’s His plan for the salvation of the world. And we totally believe in that!
And we have love.. Love for God and love for one another. Love and faith are probably two of the most powerful forces and influences in our world.
But I knew God was speaking to me about something else – another quality of our makeup – our nature – our character – our spirit life perhaps – that needs to come to the fore in our journey together as the church.
This is where Ross’s message comes in.
He made mention of the prodigal son, and that moment when the son returns to his father’s house after wasting his fathers inheritance on reckless and depraved living… And the son comes back with his tail between his legs – not expecting anything but to perhaps be allowed to work as a servant… because at least the servants had something to eat.
And although the son said it in a few more words than this – Ross said that basically it was three words that changed everything. He said to his father – “I was wrong.”
Ross then shared how he had made the choice also, in a recent situation, to humble himself and say to the person – “I was wrong.” He said it broke down every wall – every barrier – and made the way for healing and a resolution to be found.
Now, what has that got to do with my message this morning? It’s not necessarily about being wrong…
But it is simple! Every one of us – myself included – need to take some time to humble ourselves before God and maybe one another – and allow Him to search out our own hearts – and release us from anything that would hinder or hold us back from being totally and completely surrendered and open – and trusting God with every aspect of our lives.
This message is going to touch on a few things that have already been said over the last few weeks. And I think that’s appropriate.
I believe God is calling us to become a people of great faith! Faith that is not only life changing – but nation changing. And the way to greatness of faith is actually to position ourselves before God, with the greatest of humility.
I want to share with you a couple of stories from the bible where Jesus identifies certain individuals as having great faith – but firstly, I think our key scripture for this morning is this:
1 Peter 5:5-7, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
We’ll come back to that scripture in a moment…
The first story I want to share is that of the Centurian mentioned in Luke 7.
Luke 7:2-5, “And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.”
So straight away we get the picture of this Roman official – a leader of probably about 100 or so soldiers – not a Jew or religious person – but He obviously has a great respect for the Jewish people – even building them a temple. Here are the Jewish elders, pleading on the Centurion’s behalf – that Jesus would come and heal his servant.
Luke 7:6-10, “Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. ” When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.”
Jesus doesn’t throw around that statement about people having great faith – lightly.
But the main reason for this Centurion having great faith is that it is accompanied by a deep humility. He wasn’t even a religious man – and yet he respected Jesus as a holy man who carried the gift of healing. In comparison – the centurion sees himself as not even worthy to be in Jesus’ presence. But his faith was such that He knew Jesus could heal the servant by His word – even from a distance – because he knew what true authority was – and recognised and believed that Jesus carried authority to heal.
As I was reading this, it struck me, that there are many many people in the world – in our community – who we could easily describe as being good hearted and generous people – respectful people – honouring people… humble people… just like this Centurion.
They may come from a different culture – different background – live in a very secular world…
There’s only one thing really that makes them different from us – they haven’t yet had the revelation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God – that He actually is the Messiah – the Saviour of the world.
But don’t we need to be positioning ourselves in their world – in all humility ourselves – knowing that all that separates us is the understanding and trust that Jesus has saved us? That our sins are forgiven because of the Cross of Calvary?
And perhaps when that moment of need arises and that cry for help comes – we might be the one they reach out to? We are just as unworthy as they are – but we have found faith in the love and grace of Jesus.
I hope and pray that no form of pride – including religious pride – would ever be a hinderance to us being there for anyone who needs the truth themselves.
I wonder what happened to the Centurion after his servant was healed? I hope it was an eternally life changing moment for him.
Another story I want to share with you is the encounter that Jesus has with the Canaanite woman.
On one of His journeys, a woman from Canaan approached Jesus as He was walking, and cried out for prayer and healing for her daughter who was severely demon possessed.
But He didn’t even answer her.
Now we don’t know everything about this situation – but we do know that Canaan had become a place of idolatry and perversion – and the people were actually sacrificing their children to demons. There was probably a very good reason why this mother’s daughter was severely demon possessed.
The disciples urged Jesus to send her away… and Jesus Himself said – I have only been sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
This is what happens next:
Matthew 15:25-28, “Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
That’s actually what the Jews would call the Canaanites – dogs!
“And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”
There’s a very powerful message for us here also.
This woman was pretty much rejected by Jesus and His disciples. I know – I don’t really understand it either – but that’s not the end of the story.
How would you feel – crying out to Jesus with all your heart – desperate for the healing of your daughter – and Jesus says – you’re only a dog – you have no place in what I’ve been called to do – and that is to lead Israel – the people of God – to salvation.
So what does she do? She worships Him! She understands actually what He is saying. She knows why He has called her a little dog.
She even acknowledges it to Him. She says, yes, but even the little dogs – the unworthy ones – just like me – get a few crumbs from the Master’s table…
And all of a sudden – this women goes from being a little dog – to being one of only a couple of people of whom Jesus ever said – you of great faith!
Have you ever felt that Jesus has ignored you – or even worse – rejected you? Have you ever felt that you were so unworthy of God’s love and attention that you’ve felt like a dog?
Have you ever felt like your prayers have been unanswered? Like they don’t ever reach the heart of God?
Well – What should you do?
If we follow the example of the Canaanite woman – you should choose to worship. You choose to humble yourself before God – knowing that even though you don’t understand – God is still Sovereign – He is still Lord of all.
And you don’t stop believing. You don’t stop asking.
Jesus gave the example of the widow that cried out to the unjust judge… He was a man who didn’t care about her – didn’t care about God – and yet because she persisted with her cries, he answered her and came to her aid.
Luke 18:6-8, “Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
There’s something powerful in the kind of faith and humility combined, that pushes through the feelings of rejection and perceived abandonment that we can sometimes experience.
We could rise up with pride and self righteousness – with offence and anger – and we could sabotage the extraordinary blessings that often come as the story unfolds.
Faith and humility are the keys to opening doors to freedom that we could so easily think are forever closed.
And not just faith and humility:
Hebrews 6:11-12, “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Here’s the thing. We are people of faith. Faith is a powerful thing in our lives – and especially for us Pentecostals – we have faith to believe for miracles, healings, revival, salvations, all kinds of supernatural and powerful blessings – which many churches no longer believe for.
Our old Pastor from Brisbane – David McDonald – only ever preached on faith. He admitted – he only ever had one message. He just used to say it in all kinds of different ways. But he lived by faith – he breathed faith.
But alongside faith we need to have our soul and our spirit aligned with the heart of God as well… we need to walk in humility – trusting God for everything. We need to have the fruit of the Spirit operating in our lives – including patience and perseverance… and joy while we’re waiting…
Faith and humility position us in a place where the grace of God can be released.
Remember that scripture we started out with from 1Peter 5? It says that God gives grace to the humble. But He resists the proud.
If we sense any personal pride lurking behind our own achievements – any self righteousness that undergirds the blessings that we walk in – then it needs to bow… And we need to humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God – because without Him, we can do nothing of eternal value.
When we humble ourselves – putting our faith completely at the foot of the cross which has given us life itself – then the scripture says that God Himself will raise us up in due time.
And this is really important – this last bit. It says “casting your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”
Part of our humility is being able to lay down our cares – casting them upon Jesus. Humility says that we aren’t meant to worry or be anxious – or stress – because if we do – we aren’t trusting Him. We aren’t really in faith that He is able to lead us through the fire – through the raging waters…
Isaiah 43:1-3, “…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”
Here’s a thought. If trusting in God and His Word is a sign of our humility – then does that mean that continuing to be anxious and worrying about the future… is that then a form of pride? As if me continuing to worry and be anxious and carrying that burden on my own shoulders means that I can do a better job of dealing with it than God?
True humility is about total and complete trust.
I don’t think it means we should never feel fearful or anxious. But I do think that God is saying – if you humble yourself before me, I will lift you up – I will take care of you – because I love you – and whenever those feelings want to take over us – we have a place where we can leave them… In fact, it’s a place where we can cast them off and be free of them. And that takes both faith and humility.
The grace of God is here for us. His grace is making room for every one of us to be truly positioned for end time revival.
There’s a scripture that we often pray and quote at times like we are in right now – with devastating drought – destructive fires – weather conditions that are only making things worse. Praise God there’s been some breaking rain…
But we often pray… well, let me rephrase that… I often pray this scripture and I know that when I pray it out, there’s an element of judgement attached to it – because of all the ungodly decisions that have been made in our nation that are opposite to God’s Word. If I’m really honest, I can see it a form of religious pride.
2 Chronicles 7:14, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
And if I’m honest – when I pray that, I’m thinking it’s really a call to all those wicked people out there who have been proponents of anti Christ legislation and bringing ungodly cultural change – influencing even our little ones up…
But guess what? It says “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves…”
That’s not talking about some random group of people out there somewhere… it’s talking about me! It’s taking about us – the church – His people, called buy His Name…
There’s a call for us to humble ourselves – for us to turn from our wicked ways… What wicked ways? Pride? Unbelief? Not totally trusting God? Self righteousness? Worrying? Being anxious? Idolatry!
This message is ultimately about our land being healed. And it has to start with us! Don’t be like me – and point the finger out into the world.
We all need to humble ourselves – just like Pastor Ross Abraham did… if we need to say sorry – then do it. If we need to say we were wrong – then say it. If we need to confess our unbelief that God can take our cares and anxieties – then repent.
God gives grace to the humble. Grace upon grace upon grace.
He will exalt you. He will lift you up. He will make a way for you to become all that you have been destined to become.
You will become a faithful minister of the gospel – and be rewarded with the peace of knowing that you are walking in all the statutes of God for your life.
We know about faith. But let’s make sure that it is always accompanied by humility.
Philippians 2:5-11, (Passion Translation). “So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity—with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy. Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. Abandon every display of selfishness. Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests. And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation. He existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize. Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient. He was a perfect example, even in his death—a criminal’s death by crucifixion! Because of that obedience, God exalted him and multiplied his greatness! He has now been given the greatest of all names!”