Text: Luke 7:18-23
Summary: Because Jesus is so gracious, it’s fine to begin prayer with doubts. But to be called a person of faith, we must end our prayers proclaiming our absolute trust in Jesus.
18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Father, we pray that you teach us more how to pray in a way that is pleasing in your sight. We pray that you would raise up the level of faith of all those who are gathered here. We pray that we would move from a little faith to more faith to a grain of mustard seed size faith that can move mountains. Father, I pray that you would raise up the level of faith among us. Jesus, we give you this time. You are our teacher. We pray that you would teach us and lead us and shepherd us. Thank you. In Jesus Name, Amen
Last week I mentioned in passing Matthew 17, the account of a father who comes to Jesus and his son has epilepsy, and his son has been suffering greatly because of an unclean spirit that is in him. And Jesus casts out this spirit that causes epilepsy. And later the disciples asked Jesus, how come we couldn’t cast out this demon? And Jesus’s response to them is, because of your little faith. Because of your little faith.
He doesn’t say they have zero faith. He just says they have little faith. And then He says, 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. And so we think a grain of mustard seed is so little, but Jesus says there’s something even more little than this grain of mustard seed. And the disciples maybe have half a grain? I don’t know, a quarter of a grain? But it’s not even a full grain of mustard seed. And He says your faith is little.
And so the goal for all of us is we want to get at least to the grain of mustard seed, a faith that can move mountains. That is the goal for every believer. So today I want to talk about how we build up our faith. How do we go from maybe no faith, or from a counterfeit faith, or from a little faith, which is a little bit better, to a grain of mustard seed size faith, a faith that can move mountains? That is the progression. We want to go from zero faith, counterfeit faith, move up to a little faith, and eventually, a grain of mustard seed size faith, a faith that can move mountains.
So how do we build up our faith? And clearly, from that text, we see that faith has levels. We don’t all have the same faith. There are some with more faith than others and some with perhaps a counterfeit faith that is being accepted among the masses in the Christian church and saying, this is an acceptable faith when it actually might be counterfeit. Some people believe that as long as you have the right doctrine, isn’t that what faith is? As long as you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and He paid for your sins, doesn’t that mean I am a person of faith? And so, we assume based on a profession of faith, that person has faith. It’s acceptable. It may be a little but it’s acceptable.
Today I want to root out any form of counterfeit faith among us. I want us to move to a little faith, and from a little faith, I want us to move to a faith that can move mountains. Luke 6:12, going back a chapter, is Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. And prior to that, let me just read in v.12.
12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles
I used to have a wrong picture and God clarified for me this time when I was reading Luke 6, that Jesus had a crowd of disciples. Jesus prays all night, and among the crowd, He chooses 12 and calls them apostles. I thought the first 12 were the apostles. Now Jesus has a crowd of people that considered themselves disciples of Jesus. He prays all night, and God selects 12 of them. And Jesus makes it clear, you 12 are the apostles.
I just want to point out that Jesus had to pray all night. It was not automatic. Just because He’s the Son of God and He knows the hearts of every person, that He knows the will of God and among dozens of disciples, He could in an instant pick the twelve. But it doesn’t work that way. Even Jesus humbles himself and prays all night to discern who are the 12 to be called apostles among dozens of disciples. How much more we should be prayerful when making decisions.
17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon
So now Jesus is going to preach the Sermon on the Mount, His very first sermon. I want to point out here that the disciples are there, but it’s also a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon. And so there’s a large crowd gathering around Jesus getting ready to listen to the first sermon. But I want you to pay attention to v.20.
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said…
And so the next part of this sermon, the beginning of His sermon, He’s not addressing the great multitude. He’s looking at his disciples. And so we’ve been talking in recent weeks that we must make eye contact with the Lord. We must turn our hearts to the Lord, we must look at Him. And when we do that, in this part of the sermon, the first portion, Jesus is making eye contact, not with a great multitude. He’s looking at His disciples and saying, these verses are for you. And then He begins in the second half of v.20.
20 “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
Before we read v. 24, I think the first three verses, He’s making direct eye contact to all of the disciples, maybe they’re gathered in the front of the crowd and in the front row. He’s looking at His disciples. And then when He begins preaching v.24, He must have looked up at a different location, He must have looked out at the multitude, saying, now I’m going to speak to the greater crowd. Now, these verses are for you.
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
When you set out in your life, did you consider it to be a blessed life if you are poor, if you are hungry, if you are hated, and if you are weeping? Four things. Did you ever set out at the beginning of your life, and say, I want these four things because that is the definition of a life that is blessed by God? Did anybody ever tell you that this is a blessed life? Did your parents ever tell you as a young kid that, son, daughter, I hope when you grow up that you’re poor? Because in Matthew 5, Jesus says, poor in spirit and so we like that interpretation, we say that it has nothing to do with finances. We like the fact that everyone whether rich materially or poor materially, we can all be poor in spirit. But Jesus doesn’t say here poor in spirit, he’s literally talking about the poor. And this is about finances.
Did your mom or dad ever say, I hope you grow up to be poor? I hope you struggle to pay for your bills. And because you’re poor, there’s going to be days when you’re not going to have food in the refrigerator, and you’re going to be hungry. But I say, son, daughter, that is a blessing. Did any parent ever say that to their children? Did anybody ever say, I hope you have many days when you’re not laughing, not having a good time, but weeping? Did anybody ever say that I hope this is what happens in your life in the future, that this is what it means to be blessed? Did anybody ever say, I hope you’re unpopular? That nobody knows your name. In fact, if they know of you, the only thing they will say of you is that they hate you. Did you ever set out and say, this is what I want out of life?
And I want to say today that there are many who are poor but they are not blessed. There are many who are hungry and their stomach is growling but they are not blessed. There are many who weep because life is so hard but they are not blessed. There are many who are hated in this world and a nobody in this world, but they are not blessed. Because here, it presumes something. There’s an assumption here that if you are a person of faith and you are poor, you are blessed because great is your reward in heaven. If you are hungry, but still you are not complaining, you’re not grumbling, you’re a person of faith and you trust the Lord, then great is your reward in heaven and you are blessed.
If you are weeping in your heart because there’s so much difficulty but you bring your tears to Jesus, you’re a person of faith. You bring all of your sorrows to Jesus because Jesus understands you. He is a man familiar with sorrows, He understands. He’s wept plenty in His life. He sees the brokenness of this world. He must have wept all the time, when He’s praying in a solitary place. And if you’re a person of faith, you bring your tears to Jesus. There’s a great reward in heaven for you. If you’re hated on account of the name of Jesus and you are okay with it because you’re a person of faith, then Jesus says, you are truly blessed.
And so all of these blessings presume faith. You must have faith. If you do not have faith, these blessings do not apply. So not everybody is poor among God’s Church. Not everybody has such a difficult life that most days they are weeping. Not everybody in God’s Church is hungry on a regular basis. I think this last applies to all of God’s Church, that eventually, all of us will be hated on account of the name of Jesus Christ.
And so how do we make sense of this because not every one of us is poor, not every one of us weeps, not everyone is hungry, not everyone right now is hated. I think here it’s just talking about the reward, and we just have to understand that there are people in the body of Christ, members of the body of Christ, spread out across the world, who are poorer than us because we live in America. They are hungry on a daily basis because they don’t live in America, and they are weeping because life is so difficult and they are actually hated and persecuted right now at this moment, and their reward, we just have to admit, is greater than ours. We just have to admit it based on God’s Word. It doesn’t mean you’re not saved. This is not talking about salvation. This is talking about the reward, and those of us here, perhaps our reward will be meager compared to our fellow brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are suffering, and they will have a great reward because Jesus is looking right at them.
And among Jesus’s first disciples, and certainly the apostles, they experienced all of these things. Jesus didn’t have a place to lay His head. And so, that means whoever is following Him, they also don’t regularly know where they’re going to lay their head for the night. They are taking donations from people. And so if Jesus is not preaching, there’s no donation. And on that day, they don’t eat. And so if you’re among the apostles who are following Jesus, they must have been hungry on a regular basis.
If Jesus is weeping at the brokenness of this world, His apostles who are following Jesus, in their heart, they must have also been weeping. And clearly, when the religious system and the secular society hates Jesus, that hatred must have also been felt by the apostles of Jesus. And so at least when Jesus is looking upon His disciples, especially His apostles, He must have said, great is your reward, brothers, great is your award, sisters. Whoever experiences these types of suffering in this life, then in the next life, great is your reward.
But whether you’re rich or poor, whether you’re hungry or full, whether you are weeping or laughing, whether you’re hated now or not hated now, all of these presume a baseline of faith. You have to at least have a baseline of faith. Otherwise, these verses don’t apply. Because we know plenty of people who are poor and hungry and weeping at the difficulties of life, they are nobody in this life, but they have no faith and so these blessings do not apply to them. But if you are a person of faith, you go through life’s difficulties, and you hold on to your faith, great is your reward. Now apply this to the life of John the Baptist.
18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
I just want to give a quick timeline because I didn’t know this until this past week. Luke 1:25 and 26 is talking about John the Baptist when he’s still in his mother, Elizabeth’s womb. And we know that Mary and Elizabeth, Mary the mother of Jesus, Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist, they are related. It doesn’t say clearly but we have to presume, it sounds like they are cousins. I don’t know what that makes Jesus and John the Baptist. They seem related somehow. And I don’t want to presume to say it is this for sure. But Jesus and John the Baptist grew up knowing each other. John the Baptist is slightly older, at least five months, maybe at most, up to six months older than Jesus. And so they’re similar in age.
1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
The reason why all of this detail is given of the tetrarch and who’s reigning is so that we can locate exactly when this verse happened. While John the Baptist was in the wilderness, we don’t know how long he was there. We know that he was called while he was in the womb. We know that the Holy Spirit filled him, even while he was in the womb. And he never drank wine. He was consecrated to the Lord. He knew from birth that he was called by the Lord for a specific purpose.
And so he’s in a wilderness, we don’t know how long. He’s eating locusts. He’s eating honey. He’s wearing camel’s skin. He is literally poor. Blessed are the poor. John the Baptist has this reward that is coming, as long as he holds on to his faith. He must have wept looking at the state of Israel, the spiritual state of Israel. He knows that they are being misled. He knows that they are being led to hell. He knows that if the Messiah doesn’t come, if people do not repent, he knows that an entire generation will be lost. He must have been somebody who was accustomed to weeping. Because he’s poor, he’s eating locusts and honey. If there are no locusts and honey, he’s not eating. He must have known hunger. Blessed are those who are hungry.
And we also know that he is hated. He doesn’t go to the traditional synagogue. He doesn’t go to the rabbinic schools. He is out of the system and so anybody who’s in the system looking at him, hates him. And John the Baptist, we know that while he’s in the wilderness, the Word of the Lord comes to him. The Messiah is coming. Now, why don’t you ramp up the message? Why don’t you raise the temperature a little bit, you need to prepare the people. Prepare the way for Jesus. And it’s a baptism of repentance. So it is at that point, he must have begun his public ministry. And we know from the details given in Luke 3:1 and 2, this is AD 29. We know Jesus died at age 33. And so this is right before Jesus is beginning his ministry.
Another detail I want to give is in Matthew 4:12. It says, now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And this is when Jesus is beginning His ministry. Notice that when Jesus begins, John the Baptist is already in prison. So sometime between AD 29 and AD 30, somewhere in that time range, at most a year, John the Baptist who began preaching is already in prison.
Think about his life. He is from birth preparing to minister. He is in a wilderness we don’t know how long, presumably for years. He’s in a wilderness. And while he’s in the wilderness at AD 29, the Word of the Lord comes, and then he begins. In the beginning, there is a great crowd that gathered. You could say, he had a very successful launch to his ministry. A great crowd gathers. Even the Pharisees are hearing about it and so they are also going into the wilderness to hear from John. But within a short few months, at max to a year, the whole ministry is disbanded, and John the Baptist is in prison about to die. And Jesus begins His ministry. John literally paved the way. Once he did his job, he prepared his whole life, he did a short ministry, few months to one year, he was faithful to it. And as soon as he’s done, Jesus begins.
If you were in John the Baptist’s shoes, you would doubt. He knows he’s blessed. He knows that blessed are the poor. These verses, if he were in the audience, I think his heart would have been stirred. That he would say, okay, this verse, Jesus is looking at me. I have this reward that is coming. I think if John the Baptist was sitting there listening to the Sermon on the Mount, John the Baptist would be able to say, yes, this verse applies to me. When Jesus said, blessed are those who are hungry, John the Baptist would say in his heart, yes, I’ve been hungry many days. I must have a great reward that’s coming.
All the days that he wept over his own sin, the sins of unbelief of the people of Israel, he must have said, yes, I understand what it means to weep. And he must have said, okay, great is my reward. All the times the Pharisees came out and they criticized him, and he says to them, you brood of vipers. He talked like Jesus and gave that kind of a harsh message to the Pharisees and the religious leaders of Jerusalem. And he was hated because of it. And John the Baptist must have said, yes, great is my reward, I am so blessed.
But John the Baptist is not there. He’s alone in a prison. And think, if you prepared your whole life, you have a certain script, don’t you? You have a certain script and you know Jesus. You grew up with Jesus. He is a familiar person to you, and at some point, while you’re preaching, the grown-up Jesus comes to you, and this is just revelation from the Lord, immediately he recognizes, my relative Jesus is the Messiah. He says, He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He knows in an instant that the person he has been preparing for his whole life is his own relative Jesus Christ.
And if I had that kind of an amazing start to my ministry and I was preparing for 29 years, almost 30 years, and then I had a great beginning to the ministry in a few months, large crowds were gathering, Pharisees were curious of what was happening in the wilderness. If I had this kind of a beginning, I think I would have a certain script in my head that I would have at least a considerable amount of time for fruitful ministry. That I would maybe partner with Jesus. Maybe I’d be with Jesus among the 12. You’d have a certain script in your head, wouldn’t you if you were John the Baptist?
And suddenly, when he calls out Herod for marrying Herodias, his brother’s wife, he’s just calling it sin for what it is. He’s a prophet. For that accusation, he is thrown into prison and he’s about to be beheaded. What is going through John the Baptist’s mind? I’m just presuming here. It doesn’t say, but all we know is that he goes from great faith, a faith that recognizes Jesus as being the Messiah, a faith that is eager to let his disciples go and follow Jesus. And that takes a great amount of faith, not to be possessive. He says, you follow this man, He’s the Messiah. How does he go from that to now, in Luke 7, sending his disciples to Jesus and his disciples ask Him, are you the one?
Didn’t John the Baptist know that Jesus was the one? Of course he knew. He’s prepared his whole life to know it. And as soon as he saw Jesus, He proclaimed it. And this is why I am assuming that while he’s in prison, he’s under spiritual attack. And the doubt is creeping in. And where is this doubt coming from? I think it starts with a certain script in your head. And I think all of us can identify with him. Because who started life, saying, I want to be poor, I want to weep. I want to be hungry. I want to be hated. No, it’s the opposite. We want to be rich, we want to be famous, we want to be powerful, we want to have many people love us. That’s what we want, we have a certain script.
And for John, he’s like, okay, I’m going to have a flourishing ministry. It’s going to last for decades and I’m going to be shoulder to shoulder with Jesus and we’re going to bring about the kingdom of God. That must have been his script because when his ministry is cut short, and for no fault of his own, just calling out an evil king for doing an evil thing, he’s thrown into prison. And now he’s about to die. Is this the way he imagined his life to pan out? And so when life doesn’t pan out the way that we want, we begin to grumble.
And if you don’t deal with the grumbling, it’s like a cancer cell. If you don’t take it out, it starts growing. And the grumbling grows into a full-fledged doubt. And eventually, you say, Jesus, are you the one, or is there another one to come? Because if you are the one, my life shouldn’t turn out like this. We say to Jesus, I surrender my life. I give you a blank slate. Whatever happens in my life, it’s up to you. I’ll be happy because I’m saved, that’s all that I care about. I just want to follow you. Didn’t we all start with that simple profession of faith? And it was a surrendering of our life.
But along the way, life throws some curveballs. And we realize in those moments by our response, whether we’ve truly surrendered our life, or whether we need to surrender again. Because when our faith is tested, because not all of us are poor, but let’s say God leads you in a direction where you are poor. If you’re truly surrendered, you’re okay with it. You’ve learned the secret of contentment, whether to be in plenty, or whether to be in lack because you’re a person of faith. It’s not anything to do with the physical possessions that you own.
But when God leads you in that direction of poverty. And you start grumbling and you don’t deal with the grumbling, you’re showing that you haven’t surrendered. You’re also showing that your faith is less than a little, maybe it’s zero. Maybe you really don’t have faith. Because faith says, no matter what I see, no matter what I own, no matter what happens in life, I trust you. That is a confession and profession of faith. And so if you start losing money because you’re following Jesus, and then because of that you start missing meals because you can’t afford to have certain meals, or you’re eating very poor food or fast food, whatever the case may be. And you start grumbling. If you don’t deal with the grumbling, it grows and grows. And eventually becomes a full-fledged doubt.
And this is where John the Baptist is right now. He must have grumbled while in a prison. We don’t know how long but it’s not that long. And then this grumbling grew into a full-fledged doubt, to the point that John the Baptist who’s been preparing his whole life to do this ministry, now that it is not panning out the way he wanted, he is now wondering, Jesus, are you the one? Because if you’re the one, I don’t think I should be in prison.
And deep down inside, we may not realize that we have a script. But when Jesus tells us, I’m going to shepherd you in this way. Here’s a lot that I’m going to give to you. Here’s the will of God for you. Here are the cards that I’m going to deal to you. And once we receive it, and we start grumbling. Then eventually, we start doubting. Can we at that point, when God is testing us, and Satan is tempting us, say that we’re a person of faith?
I think what passes as faith here, because we’re in such prosperity in many ways, is something to the effect of, because I am blessed materially, because I’m blessed with a lot of friends, because I’m blessed with a refrigerator that’s full, because I’m blessed with many things to laugh about, many things I can watch on TV, many vacations that I can go on, I have many things to enjoy, that is why I put my faith in Jesus. Because Jesus is the one who has given me all these things. And as soon as that person is tested, you take away those things, you give them a difficulty, and how they respond will reveal if their faith is true or if it’s counterfeit.
If you lead them to poverty and they complain, they doubt, they grumble. They say, Jesus, are you the one? I would say that person is not a person of faith. And if that person is hungry, and they get angry at the Lord saying, I thought you cared for me. And then they start doubting, can you even call that person a person of faith?
If there’s a tragedy that comes on their life and they start weeping, and out of their tears, they grow in unbelief and doubt, can you call that person a person of faith? Or if they’ve been seeking the praise of man and suddenly the whole world turns against them, and they’re so shaken by it, can you call that person a person of faith? See, all of these blessings, it presumes faith. The most famous verse that Jesus gives in response to John the Baptist, and to me this is the greatest blessing because it is a litmus test of all of the other blessings, it is in Luke 7:23.
23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.
Jesus says this right after the disciples came who were sent by John the Baptist. And so Jesus knows what John the Baptist is struggling with. He is offended. Life is not supposed to be like this, Jesus, I thought you were the one. Now I’m questioning whether you’re the one. He’s offended. And another way to say offended means you’re stumbling. And if you take it to the extreme, if you are offended, you stumble, you’re grumbling, you’re doubting, if it continues unchecked, the end result is you fall away.
And so once saved, always saved? Yes, possibly. And here’s the caveat, once saved, always saved, provided you have faith that endures to the end. If you’re saved in the beginning, but at some point, you get offended, you fall away, you doubt, and you die in that state, although you were saved in the beginning, you’re not saved at the end. And so once saved, always saved only applies with the caveat that you have faith all the way to the end. And faith says, no matter what I see with my eyes, Jesus, I trust you.
And so we all begin our prayers with surrender. We even began our Christian life with surrender. Lord Jesus, I surrender my life. Lord Jesus, I surrender my future. Lord Jesus, I give you my life. I give you a blank slate. Here’s a pen, why don’t you fill it in? And we begin with that and we repent of our sins. All of our prayers, even the beginning of our Christian life begins with surrender and repentance. After that, the bulk of our Christian journey, we keep surrendering, repenting and now I want to add, we keep confessing where we are.
You surrender, you repent, and third, you confess where you are. And you see here, Jesus is not bothered by the fact that John the Baptist is offended initially. Jesus is not upset. He doesn’t say, what’s wrong with John, why don’t you slap some sense into him? Jesus doesn’t say that to John the Baptist. Jesus understands that we are willing in our spirit, but our flesh is weak. He knows that we’re made from dust. He knows that we’re frail. And so when we doubt, He’s not caught off guard. He’s not offended. He’s not surprised and angry. He’s not frustrated. He knows that this is the state of humanity.
And so He receives the doubt. So when John the Baptist is sending disciples to Jesus, this is a picture of prayer, right? We don’t have Jesus physically down the street where we can send somebody to relay a message on our behalf, but we have the privilege of accessing heaven through prayer. And Jesus is sitting on the right hand of God, and we have access to God. We have access to Jesus, we give Him our doubts, we confess where we are. Every time you are frustrated, confused, stressed, anxious, doubting, the first thing you do if you’re a person of faith is you bring it to Jesus.
If you’re not a person of faith, what do you do? You do nothing, except stay in your frustration. Stay in your doubt, stay in your stress, stay in your anxiety. You’re so maxed out, you can’t even think about God. You can’t even humble yourself and bring the request to God because you’re so consumed by your doubt, your stress, what you don’t have, all the things that are happening to you that you don’t like, how uncomfortable you feel, you’re consumed by it. And so if you’re not a person of faith, the last thing you do is humble yourself and pray.
I want to say, if you are a person of faith, and I’m assuming all of us are or we’re on our way. That when you’re stressed, when you’re burdened, when you’re frustrated, when you doubt, who is the first person you turn to? Do you turn to yourself and say, I gotta fix this. Do you turn to your friend, your spouse, who do you turn to first? That shows whether you are a person of faith or not. If you have counterfeit faith, you do not turn to Jesus. And that is going to take some self-examination.
When you are stressed, when you are frustrated, instinctively, do you turn to Jesus? Because if you’re a person of faith, it will be natural. He’s the first person you turn to. John the Baptist sent his disciples, he is praying to Jesus. He’s bringing his doubt to Jesus. And Jesus receives your doubts, He receives your confusion, He receives your frustration. So you surrender, you repent and confess where you are, and part of your confession is, you’re releasing, you’re giving your stresses, your burdens, your doubts, your frustrations, your everything to Jesus Christ.
And you may begin your prayer with doubt. You may begin your prayer stressed. You may begin your prayer frustrated, confused, burdened. But if you are a person of faith, you can not end your prayer that way. Let me say it again, you can begin your prayer with doubt, with confusion, with stress, with feeling burdened, with feeling heavy-laden. You can begin your prayer that way, but if you are a person of faith, you can not end your prayer that way. If you end it that way, can you even say you are a person of faith?
If you can’t honestly say at the end of your prayer, here’s what I see, Lord. You confess, this is where I am, Lord. Nothing makes sense. I am confused. I’m frustrated. I’m being tempted to doubt. But you end your prayer with, I give these to you. I trust in you. Despite what I see, I trust in You. You don’t have to deliver me from prison, I might die here, Lord, but I trust in you. That is what it means to be blessed because you’re not offended by Jesus. However He leads your life, you’re not offended. That’s the basement, the ground floor of faith, and then you build up from there. No matter what happens in your life, you can confess and end your prayer with, amen, so be it. I trust you, Lord Jesus.
If you can do that, then you qualify as a person of faith. Beginning your prayer with doubt, you can not end your prayer with doubt. You end it with proclaiming your faith, proclaiming your trust. Giving your burdens and not taking it back as soon as the prayer ends. You leave it with the Lord. What if five minutes later you feel doubt again? What if five minutes later you feel stressed again? What if five minutes later you feel frustrated again? Then again humble yourself. Give your stresses to the Lord. Give your doubts to the Lord. And end your prayers with a proclamation of faith. And do this as often as needed. This is how we abide in Christ. This is how we learn to depend on Christ. This is how we grow in Christ-likeness.
God has made our lives in some sense difficult on purpose. Because if it’s easy, do we need the Lord? Did Jesus have to come if we have an easy life? The fact that it is difficult, the fact that there is a sin nature, the fact that we are in a fallen world, the fact that there is deception all around us, and satan who is prowling around like a roaring lion, is always attacking us at the most opportune time when we are weakest, everything is built so that we can humble ourselves. Confess where we are. Lay our doubts, and give our burdens to Jesus. And proclaim our trust in Him.
And this is going to happen many times on many days throughout our many years or however long the Lord has put us on earth. I would have to say, in the last five years, what I described to you is the prayer I pray the most. Lord, I’m confused. Lord, I doubt. Lord, I’m frustrated. But Lord Jesus, I bring these to you. And I end the prayer proclaiming, Jesus, I trust you. Five minutes later, I feel the rising doubts, the rising stress, the rising frustrations, I do it again. I do it multiple times, pretty much every day. This is probably the prayer I pray the most.
First, I surrender and say, okay, there is a certain script that I haven’t fully surrendered. Because why do I get upset when Jesus takes me on a turn this way, or a turn that way? Why do I get upset? Because if I’m truly just following Him and have no agenda, I shouldn’t be upset. And so I go back to, okay Jesus, I need to surrender again. I repent for grumbling. I repent for thinking that I am entitled to a certain life, or a certain way that my life should progress. So it goes back to surrender and repentance. Then I confess where I am at. Let me just be honest, it is often frustration, doubt, confusion, and I give it to the Lord Jesus. And I give it to Him many times throughout every day. And I always end the prayer, I don’t understand, Lord, but Jesus, I trust you. If you do that over your lifetime, you will find that your faith is being built up.
But if the bottom line or the baseline of your faith is no matter what happens, Jesus, I trust you, then you’re on the ground floor and you can call yourself a person of faith. From there, you start building. Then you have a little faith. Once you weather one storm, and you overcome one trial, the next time a similar trial hits, you don’t have to pray as often or as long because more quickly you can trust Him and release it and leave it with Him. And so that’s how you know, okay, my faith is building. I used to be on the ground floor, now I’m on the first floor. Then we start building and we begin to see miracles of God. And now you’re in the penthouse, and you see that nothing is impossible with God. And so we are moving up the stairs, building up our faith. But the bottom floor is, Jesus, I don’t understand, but I trust you. Let’s pray.
Father, we come and surrender to you. Forgive us for not surrendering. Even though we say you are Lord, our reactions prove that we’re still the lord over our life. We haven’t really fully surrendered. I pray we will start each day with full surrender. Forgive us for grumbling. Lord, you reveal to us so often that we haven’t surrendered. Even the great John the Baptist stumbled while he was in prison. That grumbling turned into a full-fledged doubt. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you for seeing where we are. You see the frailty of our faith. You know that we’re made out of dust. And so when we confess to you where we are, and after we repent and after we’ve surrendered, Lord, you’re not bothered. You’re not frustrated, you’re so humble and gentle.
So, Lord Jesus, we give to you our frustration, we give to you our doubts. We give you our future. We give to you all of our goals, we give to you all of our dreams. Lord Jesus, direct our life as you see fit. Lord, forgive us for acting as if we are the lord of our life. Forgive us, Lord. We don’t want to do that anymore. You are the Lord, and we are your sheep. You’re the head, we are the body. We’re a member of the body of Christ. Wherever you lead, we want to follow you. Like John the Baptist, if it’s to prison and death, so be it. Jesus, we trust you. If it’s poverty, so be it. We trust you. If there’s too many things in life that we weep about, so be it. We trust you. If it’s many days we’re hungry because we don’t have food on the table, so be it. We trust you. If it’s to be hated which applies to all believers of every generation who proclaim the name of Jesus, if we are hated on account of your Name, so be it. We trust you.
Lord, we repent of small faith. We repent of counterfeit faith. We pray that you will build upon the ground floor of faith, no matter what happens, Jesus, no matter what I see, I trust you. We pray that you build upon that faith a little more faith. We pray that we would eventually, all of us, get to a place where nothing is impossible with you. We’re not bowing down or cowering before any situation, no matter how menacing it may seem, no matter how hopeless it may seem. Lord, we want to get to a place where we have full trust that nothing is impossible. It’s just a grain of a mustard seed. In our eyes, it is so small, but in your eyes, it is so great.
We want to get there, not just zero faith, not just little faith, but a great amount of faith that is worthy of your praise. Please, Lord, we want to get there. We pray that you would minister to us as we partake in your Lord’s Supper. As we lay down our lives before you again and fully surrender. As we confess where we are. We pray that you humbly receive us because you’re so humble. We pray you humbly receive us wherever we are. And wherever we are, please start building us up, step by step. Father, we’re your children. You discipline us, we go through difficulties, just because you’re growing us into Christ’s likeness. We pray you grow us step by step. We pray that you meet us even in the partaking of your Lord’s Supper this morning. In Jesus Name, Amen