“If-Not” Faith

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"If-Not" Faith is the type of faith that keeps on going, keeps on believing and keeps on standing no matter the consequences, no matter the opposition and no matter even the result.

So how can you obtain this kind of faith? Listen and find out...

With this plebiscite and decision that our country faces, I’ve been asked a few time whether I will feel let down by God if the decision goes the wrong way. If Gay marriage is endorsed by misguided people in our country, how will I feel? How will you feel?

Well let me say first of all that I am praying and indeed believing for a no vote win. What I am about to share is not a watering down of my view, which I believe based on Scripture is God’s view. But you can ask the same question for any test of faith that you face. How will you feel if it doesn’t work out? That healing you’re praying for. That financial situation that threatens to sink you. That child who is breaking your heart.

Wait a minute Pastor Darin, you’re trying to destroy my faith, right? You don’t think we will win, and you’re trying to let me down softly, right? Wrong! I’m trying to show you the deeper level of faith the Lord has been teaching me about

Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

All things? Even if we don’t like the result? Even if we prayed for the opposite and believed and trusted?

Daniel chapter 3 shows me that true Biblical faith, world changing, earth shattering faith is deeper than whatever situation you face. I’m going to call it “If Not” faith, and share with you what the Lord has been teaching me and challenging in my own walk of faith.

GOD DOESN’T NEED AN OUT

Let me firstly point out the fact that God doesn’t need an out. He doesn’t need your help to protect His reputation just in case He is not strong enough and the bad guys win. I grew up with a brand of faith that wasn’t really faith at all. I remember being advised to paraphrase every prayer with “If it be your will Lord” just in case God didn’t come through as we asked. If that is faith, it is surely the limpest, weakest most lifeless faith of all!

Stop trying to give God an out! When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, it looked like they had won. When Daniel was thrown into the lions den, it looked like his enemies had won. When Jesus died on the cross, the devil was absolutely sure that he had won. But God had a plan. The set back was just a set up for a come back. If you pray for something and it doesn’t come true, don’t bother trying to give God a free pass. He can defend Himself. True faith goes deeper than that!

What I have discovered is that true faith is not, repeat, is NOT dependent on the result. Most of what I have seen is so called faith today is heavily dependent on the result, but God has shown me that the faith He desires is far deeper than getting what we want!

True faith rises above the circumstances, regardless of what you’ve been praying for or believing for.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV Strong's)

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,

the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,

the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

So what does true, genuine, Holy Spirit inspired faith look like? Let’s look at part of our Bible reading this past week to learn some truths about what God looks for in our faith…

FAITH UNDER PRESSURE

In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar, possibly the greatest earthly king in history, sets up an image of gold on the plains of Dura, that everybody is to bow down and worship when the music plays. The penalty for not bowing down is death, burned alive in the fiery furnace. You think our faith is being tested in this country, these guys faced the ultimate test.

So the music plays, the entire nation fall down to worship the image expect three young exiled Hebrew men… Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo. Talk about pressure! Everyone prostrate before the Image of gold, except the three guys standing bolt upright. They are arrested and taken before the King. These men made a stand for God, so let’s see what happened to them…

1. THEY WERE ACCUSED AND ATTACKED

These young men could have prayed for mercy, they could have asked God for wisdom on how they could compromise with the power of the day, how they could fit in, but they didn’t! They prayed for strength and stood bolt upright when everyone else compromised. And they were attacked…

Daniel 3:8 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews.

Hebrew word for ACCUSED is QERAS, which literally means “to eat the pieces of, or to chew up piece by piece.” What an apt description of how the media and social media have attacked Christians. They call us bigoted, they call us hypocrites and they cry for fairness and tolerance, yet they do this in the most biased and unfair manner!

I have never before seen Christianity attacked in this country like the last few months. I said a couple of weeks ago, we will see more persecution of Christians in the next 2 years than we have seen in the last 200 years.

2. THEY TOOK A STAND

Daniel 3:14 (ESV Strong's)

Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?

Now if it was me and the King asked if it was true, I reckon I would try and talk me way out of it.

These 3 guys could have just updated their Facebook status with a rainbow and snuck under the radar, but they decided to make a stand for what they believed was right. They decided, as have we in this church, to obey God’s Word and not compromise, and not bow down. Believers, it is time to take a stand in love for what we believe in, and decide here and now not to bend.

And I will not compromise. Regardless of what anyone says, or legislates, marriage is between a man and a woman… according to God, and therefore according to me! I have several gay friends, I love them, but love does not have to be agreement. I can disagree with same sex marriage and still love them. I disagree with many people that I love. This is my stand, and…

I won’t back down, no I won’t back down. You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down!

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV Strong's)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Peter Marshall said, “You are better to stand for something lest you fall for anything.” Like these young men, many of us have taken a stand and been vilified, and yes it’s tough, and yes it hurts, but when it comes to principles, when it comes to what is right, as Midnight Oil once sang, it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

3. THEY BEHAVED RESPECTFULLY

If nothing else the various campaigns for and against same sex marriage have shown one thing… those preaching tolerance and the most intolerant of all. The media and lobby groups have mocked, criticised, slandered, sworn at and tried to entrap those who simply share a different view on the topic. Those against it have nobly not attacked back… they have, from what I have seen, been respectful.

I don’t agree with the yes vote, and I don’t agree gays should be married, but I will not disrespect them or treat them differently.

1 Peter 3:13-17 (ESV Strong's)

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

These 3 young men were not disrespectful… they might be opposing the most powerful man on earth, but they showed genuine love, respect and honour towards him. So should we.

4. THEY HAD FAITH FOR DELIVERANCE

They respectfully answered the king…

Daniel 3:16-17 (ESV Strong's)

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.

These three men were resolved to worship their God, confident He would act on their behalf. They did not argue the point with the king or defend themselves. They simply proclaimed their faith and put their lives in the hands of the one true God. They simply trusted their God!

They made a stand, and under the most intense pressure, instead of fearing for their lives, instead of compromising, they refused to bend, even unto death. They had faith, and the Lord loves that faith.

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV Strong's)

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Faith is not a tool to get what you want. It’s a way to please your Heavenly Father.

Notice the 3 men didn’t say something like, “I think God might, maybe save us. If I can just summon enough faith, maybe He would save us.”

If you are praying for something, anything from healing to financial or other provision, then pray and believe God, and don’t stop and don’t doubt until He answers.

Now some people ask if we pray for the sick. The answer is yes, and when we pray, we pray in faith believing that God will heal them. And I keep this up until He either does it or tells me otherwise!

James 5:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

The prayer of faith, the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. So first, you have to be righteous, clean and fully committed to the Lord, living for Him. And second, you have to have faith. Not faith in drugs, science, politics or man, but faith in God!

BUT THEY ALSO HAD DEEPER, “IF-NOT” FAITH

Daniel 3:17-18 (ESV Strong's)

If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

This is earth shattering, world changing faith on a scale rarely seen in any age. These young men did not add the caveat “Lord, if it be your will,” they were not giving God an out or trying to avoid the embarrassment of having their prayers not answered the way they wanted. No, this was something far deeper!

What they are saying is, “Lord, whether You see fit in Your infinite wisdom to have mercy upon us and save our lives or not, WE WILL NOT COMPROMISE!” They are saying we stand for what is right, regardless of the result, the circumstance or anything you can do to us, O King! They are saying our faith is absolute, not dependent on the results and we believe our God, and even if He chooses to let us die, we will never bend!

This is the type of faith commended in Hebrews 11…

Hebrews 11:36-37 (ESV Strong's)

Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—

I read this in the study note from Blackeby… “Faith is demonstrated through action. Sometimes faith results in incredible victory, healing, and miraculous deliverance. Other times it is expressed by confidence and peace in the presence of continued pain, suffering and rejection. Genuine faith perseveres in both trial and triumph.”

“If not” faith stands true regardless of the perceived results. This faith says, “I’m believing for this, and if not, if it doesn’t happen the way I want, you need to know that I will never doubt, I will never turn aside, I will never back down, whatever the result, I WILL STAND WITHOUT COMPROMISE!

So how do you gain a faith is that deep, that is that strong, regardless of the result?

BUILD YOUR FAITH ON GOD’S WORD

Max Lucado talks about a time when his granddaughter fell into a pool and stopped breathing. They revived her and saved her life, and he was thanking God in prayer, thanking God for saving his precious grandchild, called God a good god. They the Lord spoke to him and said, “Max, would you still be able to call me a good God if I decided to take her home to Heaven?”

The strength of any faith is not how much you can make yourself believe, and it is not getting the desired result, it’s the object of your faith. You can tell yourself something over and over, you can convince yourself of anything. You can believe with all your heart that the world is flat, but it will not be so. You can believe sincerely that there is no God and hell doesn’t exist, and 5 seconds after you die you’ll figure it out!

The object of your faith is what makes it strong, not how much faith you can muster! Absolute faith in an absolutely faithful God is an absolute certainty. So where do we as Christians go wrong?

We build our faith on what we want, not what the Word of God says. We pray and ask God for things, we even demand them in faith thinking we are being bold, then we get mad when He doesn’t give us what He never even said He would give!

Psalms 112:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

Listen, God is not your personal Santa Clause! His job is not giving you what you want and making you the most comfortable. The symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion! The reason so many Christians lack faith is not that God has let them down, it’s that they named and claimed and believed for something God never said He would give them.

You have needs, you have desires, but can you trust God to meet your needs, even if it looks different to what you have planned?

Matthew 6:8 (ESV Strong's)

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

So what can you base “if-not” faith on? This...

Romans 10:17 (ESV Strong's)

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Faith is based in God’s Word, that’s why in the current debate, we don’t compromise God’s Word.

But hey, it doesn’t mean you can pick and choose the bits you want! You cannot claim Jeremiah 29:11 without living Jeremiah 29:12-13…

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV Strong's)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

We want the plans, we want the prospering, but we don’t want to seek Him with all our heart, because we want to reserve a bit of our heart for ourselves. We’d rather ignore God until we really need Him. Brothers and sisters, we must seek His face, not just His hand!

Many Believers are search the Bible and picking out promises they like. Prayer of Jabez, hey that’s great, but I’m not going to pray for and claim Paul’s list of sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11!

If God gives you a promise, then the Holy Spirit quickens a verse to your heart. Don’t run around the Word of God stealing promises that are not intended for you. Ask God, let Him give you a verse. If someone comes to me and says God told me this or that, I say to them “Wonderful, show me the verse.” Our prophetic people here of which we have many know that they can’t come to me with a word from the Lord without Scripture.

If you want the kind of deep, immovable, world changing faith that these 3 guys had, build it on God’s Word. If you trust men, if you trust science, if you trust the government or the TV or popular opinion, you will be let down.., they will ultimately betray you… but your Father never will!

Whether you like the result or not, whether you get what you believe for or not, faith built on the all knowing, all being, all powerful God, the Father you can only get to know through His never changing, indisputable Word, will never fail!

Here’s something I found this week… In our Bible readings we read Psalm 118. It is the middle chapter of the entire Bible. Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. The Scriptures have 594 chapters before Psalm 118, and 594 chapters after Psalm 118. Psalm 118:8 is the middle verse of the entire Bible. It goes without saying that the central verse has an important message: "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."

SO WHAT IF…? MY PROCLAMATION...

So, in regards the same sex marriage vote, will my faith be destroyed if the yes vote wins?

No chance. I’m praying for and believing for our nation to reject the proposal. It is in the hands of the Lord. If the no vote wins, I will rejoice. But even if the vote is yes, I want you to know devil, and I want you to know world, that I will not call a gay union a marriage. I will not bow the knee to this piece of legislation and I will not perform same sex marriage rites and I will not back down and I will never compromise. Lord, let us reach out to our gay friends and relatives, not stoop to legitimise something that is clearly unbiblical.

This is what I reason about faith…

Faith believes God… period! If you pray for something and it does not happen the way you planned, then either of these 4 possibilities prevail…

1. GOD IS INCAPABLE

Ephesians 3:20 (ESV Strong's)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

Is God able? He is far more than able, and nothing is impossible for Him.

2. OUR FAITH IS INADEQUATE

This is a dangerous path full of hurt and condemnation. If you think that God has not answered the way you want because of your lack of faith, you’re in for a world of disappointment. We don’t have to drum up more faith to move the hand of God. The smallest amount of faith in an infinite God is more than enough.

Matthew 17:20 (ESV Strong's)

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

3. WE DID NOT ACTUALLY HEAR FROM HIM

I hear people say they asked God for something and He let them down. Let me remind you that if you ask for something He doesn’t have as part of His plan, thank the Lord He doesn’t grant your request. You can’t just demand something, then get mad when you don’t get what you want, unless you’re a 2 year old.

1 John 5:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

The confidence that is a part of “if-not” faith comes from finding His will first, not telling Him what He should do for you! If you genuinely hear from God, if you have scripture to back you up, not twisted scripture to try and support your point, then You can take that to the bank!

4. GOD HAS A HIGHER PLAN

Absolute faith in God, “if not” faith in God , believes that no matter the outcome, God has a plan, a perfect plan, far beyond our comprehension.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Here is a graph of the stock market in 2008, the GFC. Look at that and you panic, and the economy is in ruins, and we lost everything, and then some. But when you zoom back, you see things in the true perspective. We see but a few paces ahead, but your Father knows the entire journey.

So if you are struggling in your faith, then it’s time you stepped up into absolute, “if not” faith. Have you waited and waited, is your faith growing weak, it the light burning dim? It’s time to ignite that faith and trust not in what you see, not in the results of your prayers, but in the absolute power and majesty of the King of Kings, your Father!

Like a child doing a huge puzzle, you see but a piece or two and wonder why it doesn’t seem to fit. But God sees the whole thing, and the fact things don’t seem to be working out is not the fault of the puzzle, or God, it’s us, and our limited perspective.

So if the vote is a yes vote, does that destroy my faith in God? No way! I trust Him no matter what happens in my nation, my church, my family.

How can I have such faith? Because my faith is in God. Not in man, not in public opinion, not in government legislation, my faith is in God. My faith does not stand on the results I get, my faith does not hinge on getting what I decide I want, my faith is in God.

Some of you here are struggling with your faith. You might be praying for a loved one to change, a loved one to be saved, a job, a ministry, a direction in life, finances to flow your way, success in your chosen field.

If you can trust Him for salvation, if you can trust Him for providing for you and your family, why not trust Him for whatever you are praying for. Will you trust Him so much that even if everyone else thinks God has let you down, you will stand in faith with “if-not” faith, the faith that trusts that God has a better way.

Can you trust Him that much?

If you are praying for something specific right now, and struggling to stay in faith, let’s join our faith with yours to trust God, no matter what, even if it doesn’t appear to be a positive answer.

Mark 11:22-24 (ESV Strong's)

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

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