- Sermon Notes
Growing in Faith
Last week we heard from Jesus as He was teaching a famous parable about a farmer sowing his seed which fell on different types of soils. Jesus explained the meaning of the parable; the seed is the Word of God and the different kinds of soils illustrate the different kinds of conditions of the heart.
Some people have hard hearts that reject the Word of God and it makes no difference in their lives at all. Other people receive the Word of God with joy, but it doesn't last, as soon as difficulties arise they take offense and they fall away. In other words, their faith has no depth. Other people receive the Word of God with joy also, but worries and pressures of life cause them to get distracted and all these pressing things choke the Word of God so it brings no fruit to maturity. Others are in pursuit of the American dream and their priority is to obtain the riches and pleasures of this world which also choke the Word of God so they also bring no fruit maturity.
The theme is that God desires to see the Word of God bring fruit to maturity and one of the key ways that is seen is in stronger faith. But how do we get stronger faith? We saw one of the keys to that in last week's parable. Some seed, the Word of God, fell on good soil, these are the ones who have heard the Word of God with a good heart and hold fast the Word of God in their lives and bear fruit with perseverance.
Bearing fruit with perseverance is a picture of stronger faith. Their faith perseveres through the storms of life. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. How does that strengthen faith? Because the more you know of God's Word, (with a good heart) the more you know God’s heart toward you and the more you trust Him with your life.
I. Trust God in the Storms of Life
- Beginning in verse 22 and following comes one of the most famous storms the disciples encountered and it’s all about stronger faith.
- Jesus and the disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee, Jesus fell asleep and there arose a great storm in the sea so that they feared for their lives.
- Here, the disciples themselves were given a lesson in faith; trusting God in the storm.
A. God has a purpose in the storms of life
- Many people have a very simple view of the things that happen in their lives. If anything bad happens, then they must have done something wrong to deserve it.
- If anything good happens, they must've done something right. But the scripture helps us understand that God has greater purpose in the storms we face in life.
- Certainly storms can be terrible and frightening in their devastation. We even name storms so we can distinguish one terrible event from another.
Illus – Some names of hurricanes just don't seem appropriate. There's hurricane Fiona, and Richard. Some are perfect; there's hurricane Igor; that one works for sure.
- There is certainly something about being in a storm at sea that's particularly frightening.
Illus - I can’t even imagine being on a crabbing ship in the Bering Sea! That was America's Deadliest Catch and I got scared just watching them.
- Jesus was asleep and for many that may seem to be a picture of God; that He doesn't seem to notice what they’re going through.
Psalm 121:3-4, He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
- But God has a purpose in the storms of life; this He makes clear in many places in scripture.
- There are correcting storms. One of the best examples of that would be the prophet Jonah who was running from God's purpose and direction in his life. Of course, sometimes we bring correcting storms on ourselves. Either way, God uses them to get us back on course.
Hebrews 12:5-6, 11 "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord… For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines." … All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
- There are directing storms. Joseph had a dream from God that he would one day stand above his brothers and even his father, but his brothers sold him as a slave and he ended up in Egypt.
Genesis 50:20-21, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result…So therefore, do not be afraid…"
- Then there are perfecting storms. Luke 8 gives us a perfect example because here the Lord is allowing them to go through a storm in order to increase their faith and to see His great power and authority.
James 1:2-3, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
B. He promises to be with you in the storm
- Storms come in every one's life, and God wants us to learn to walk by faith and not by fear or our emotional responses.
- We don't decide when storms begin and we don't decide when they end.
- But we can decide how we are going to react to them. The question is this; am I going to trust God and walk by faith in the midst of the storm? Clearly this is what God wants us to do.
Hebrews 10:38, But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.
Hebrews 11:1-2, 6, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval… and without faith it is impossible to please Him.
- But He also promises to be with us in the storm and that is our hope.
Isaiah 43:1-3, "…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your Savior;"
Psalm 23:4, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me;
- I find much more hope in that than anything that the world has to offer. What encouragement does the world give? “When life gives you lemons… make lemonade.” “When the going gets tough… the tough get going.” “Don't worry; be happy.” Now doesn't that encourage you?
- I prefer the hope that God gives.
Romans 8:28, We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.
II. Trust in God's Authority over Darkness
- There are those who would believe that the forces of good and evil are equal in power.
- They imagine some kind of Star Wars concept of the Dark Side having equal if not greater power.
- Yet, these verses give us great insight into the authority of Jesus over spiritual forces.
A. Satan is the prince of darkness
- When we see the degree of control that the demons had over this man, we understand that Satan does have a degree of power and authority.
- This man could not be controlled, even with chains; he was fierce and chose to live amongst the dead, in the caves of the tombs.
- The demons had subjugated the personality of that man so that he had no self-control.
- Certainly scripture speaks of the influence and power of Satan in this world.
2 Corinthians 4:4, … in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Ephesians 2:2, … you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
- The Apostle Paul in his speech to King Agrippa gave further insight as he spoke about the calling of Christ on his life…
Acts 26:17-18, "I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me."
B. Jesus is the strong man in the believer
- This man was so violent that no one could pass by that road. Yet Jesus and the disciples landed the boat immediately in that vicinity.
- Jesus was unmoved and unafraid. Instead, they were obviously afraid of Him. From their words to Jesus we have insight into what they knew.
- They knew who Jesus is…
Mark 1:24, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are - the holy One of God!"
- They knew He had authority over them; they had to ask permission to be cast into the herd of swine.
- They knew that final judgment was coming.
Matthew 8:29, "What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"
- Our confidence in His authority is key to our spiritual victory. We know that Satan is a liar, and the father of lies, therefore, it is truth that sets us free.
John 8:31-32, "If you continue in My word… You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
- What we need to know with all certainty is that Jesus has authority over the demonic realm and that He is the strong man in the life of the believer. This is a powerful spiritual principle.
Luke 11:21-22, "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder."
- That is certainly the principle by which Christ overpowers Satan and removes demons from the one possessed. When we ask Jesus into our lives, He becomes the strongman in each of us.
1 Corinthians 3:16, Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him, and he with Me."
C. Go tell others what the Lord has done
- The people from the city came and asked Jesus to depart from their region. You would think that they would have been in awe of the One who had authority over demons.
- But apparently Jesus was bad for business. I suggest that if Jesus is bad for business, then you're in the wrong business.
- The man who had been set free, however, had a very different reaction. He wanted to go with Jesus. But Jesus told him to go home and tell others what great things the Lord had done.
Luke 8:39, "Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
- The man had no theological education, no great spiritual training, he simply told others what great things God had done for him.
- A man who was born blind whom Jesus was healed was later asked to give a report…
John 9:25, "One thing I do know, once I was blind, but now I see."
Luke 8:22-39 NASB