“Moving Forward In Faith” – Sermon 5-14-17

We’re continuing our series, “Change your life and live by faith,” and today it’s time to see what it’s going to take to move ahead by faith. Have you ever wished you could just start all over, to go back and do it all over again? Just like you can’t get toothpaste back in the tube, the same goes for our lives. We can’t undo what we’ve done, but we can have a brand new start, and God wants to give to us that fresh start. God is the God of new beginnings.

King David knew of such new beginnings. Psalm 145:14 – “The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down.” Maybe we can interpret the passage this way. “God gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.” If you’ve felt like quitting, or you’re at the point right now, then you’re at the right place, that is, church, and you’re reading the right book, the Bible. The Bible says not to grow weary in doing good, and we’re to always pray and not lose heart,
2 Thessalonians 3:13; Luke 18:1. So let’s talk about how we can have that fresh start regardless of our past, or how badly we’ve messed up. To do this we’re going to be looking a blind Bartimaeus.

Mark 10:46-52 “They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.”

Big crowd, blind beggar, Jesus walks by and when Bartimaeus, heard that Jesus was passing by, he began to yell out for Jesus to have mercy on him. Now to be blind in that time meant that you couldn’t work, nor could you go anywhere by yourself, because many of the things we take for granted they never had. All Bartimaeus could do was to have family and friends set him on the side of the road where he could beg. It was a miserable life. And so when Jesus walked by, Bartimaeus thought, “This is my chance! This is where I can get a fresh new start in life. This is one opportunity I’m not going to miss!” And so he begins to yell out above the crowd, “Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me.” That’s step one in getting a fresh start!

1. Take Advantage of the Opportunity
God puts us in places where we can meet with Him and have that new beginning and fresh start. So we have to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself. Bartimaeus took advantage of this opportunity. He couldn’t wait until tomorrow, because Jesus was passing by today, so it was now or never. That’s the key to a fresh start. Don’t procrastinate. It’s now or never, so take advantage of the opportunities, seize the moment.

Everyday there are fresh start opportunities. Opportunities to make right the wrongs, to witness to a friend or co-worker, for being a better spouse or parent or person, for making a brand new start. Yet we don’t take advantage of them, and the reason is because of procrastination.
Tell me that today there isn’t something you’re procrastinating about. There’s simple stuff like exersize, diet but what about the big stuff, someone you know you need to mend fences with or forgive, more time with God in Bible study, praying, going to church and Sunday school, the list might be large.

Procrastination doesn’t make our lives easier; it just creates more stress. The truth is we already know the right things to do, and the benefits of doing right things, but we still procrastinate. The Bible warns us about planning on tomorrow, because none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, so whatever we’re going to do, we need to do it now. The Psalmist said in 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:15-17, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Are we procrastinating? God has brought us here to ask that question, and to stop making excuses. As the old adage says, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” So take advantage of the opportunities that God is giving.

2. Face Our Fears
Besides procrastination, our fears hold us back from getting that fresh start. Fear has an incredible ability to paralyze our potential, to keep us from going out, and to keep us from having the type of faith to move forward into God’s will. Fear does three things.
1. It makes us skeptical. We’re afraid of trying anything new.
2. It makes us selfish. We’re afraid to commit to God and to others.
3. It makes us short sighted. We tend to focus on the past instead of the present or future.

These fears keep us from moving ahead. They’re the “What ifs” of life. I’m sure Bartimaeus went through “What ifs.” But he faced his fears because he was desperate, at the end of his rope.
But when he shouted out to Jesus everyone disapproved and tried to shut him up. But all Bartimaeus knew was that he had a need, and the only one that could help was passing by. Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”
When the opportunity comes we need to take advantage of it, and not allow our fear to stop us from moving forward.

The Bible says that God doesn’t give us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind, 2 Timothy 1:7, ‘for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” Faith is God asking us to do something greater than we’ve ever done, and he’s asking us to depend on Him in the process. And because this can be a bit scary, often we fall back on our fears and maintain the status quo. By faith we’re to face our fears.

3. State Our Faith
This means we need to clarify what we’re asking God to do, and then state it. A secret faith is a shallow faith, because if nobody knows then we can back out it at any time. Bartimaeus said, “My teacher let me see again.” Why did Jesus ask what Bartimaeus wanted? They guy’s blind and begging. The needs are obvious, and besides, Jesus already knew the need before He asked. So why ask? Jesus was doing it for Bartimaeus’ benefit. He was allowing Bartimaeus to announce his faith.
In essence, Bartimaeus was saying, “I believe You are the Son of God, and I believe you have the power to heal and change me.” Bartimaeus stated his faith. Jesus is asking us the same question. “What do you want Me to do for you?” If Jesus were to come right now and ask that question, how would we answer? God wants to use us, bless us, and to change our lives. He wants to do incredible things in our lives and in the church, things we can’t even imagine.
Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” The key is that we have to ask; we have to state our faith and believe.

Jesus said in Matthew 21:22, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” There is one qualifier, however, and that involves God’s will. We don’t know what the future holds, or what God has in store, therefore, when we ask we need to make sure we ask for God’s will to be done. This was part of Jesus model prayer saying, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

In His famous prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said,
“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” The Apostle James said, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” We cannot predict the future, so we need to be carful not to be presumptuous, but that doesn’t mean we’re not to ask. So after we’ve taken advantage of the opportunity, faced our fears, and stated our faith,

4. Receive God’s Grace
Jesus said to Bartimaeus, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” Immediately Bartimaeus received his sight, He accepted God’s grace for his life. Some people are carrying around some major stuff like conflict, pain, disappointment grief, and loneliness. They feel that life has passed them by. In a way they’re like blind Bartimaeus on the side of the road, full of pain and misery.
But Jesus want’s to give us a fresh start, and the emphasis is “give.” We don’t earn it, nor can we work for it. None of us deserve it, and we cannot buy it, or do religious things to gain it. It’s by grace through faith.

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Of this grace the Apostle John said in 1:16, “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” What this says is that this gift of grace is ever increasing.

A father asked his young son to move a big boulder in the back yard, but try as he might the little boy couldn’t move it. He tried pushing it, pulling it, using a steel bar, and he even enlisted the help of his dog, but nothing worked. Finally he told his dad, “I can’t do it, it’s impossible.” The father said, “Have you tried everything?” And the boy replied, “Yes.” The father then said, “You never tried asking me.”

Many people are going through situations where they’ve tried just about everything to get that new start, but they didn’t ask God. Have we tried asking God for His power and grace?
Some say, “I’ve asked, but nothing happened, so I quit.” But the Bible says that we are to continue to pray and not lose heart.
Although Bartimaeus was blind, he had enough vision to see that Jesus was the only one who could help him. He had enough vision to see he needed God’s grace. Spiritual blindness is far worse than physical blindness, because it keeps us from receiving God’s grace, not only for salvation, but also for the daily mistakes we make along the way. And without God’s grace we’ll remain stuck in the past or stuck in our present, and stuck without a grace-filled future. God’s grace and forgiveness is available for everyone who wants and needs a fresh start. So take advantage of the opportunity, by faith face our fears, state our faith and receive God’s grace, finally:

5. Move Forward By Faith
We need to start believing God’s promises for our lives and then move forward in those promises. We need to take that next step. God isn’t finished in taking us farther into the faith, and as we see there is always greater grace and faith needed to live this life. And if we don’t listen then we’ll remain in our present rut. Do you know the difference between a grave and a rut? It’s the length.

If we don’t move forward by faith then our hearts will grow colder and we’ll feel more distant from God. So let’s take that next step, no matter how small or insignificant it may be, but you know that it starts with the one first step. Bartimaeus started out on the side of the road blind and begging, but he ended up healed and following Jesus.

Faith not only believes, but it’s also acting upon that belief. Consider James 2:14, 17, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? … Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” The works James speaks of is also the internal works you need to do. Where do we get the faith to start new, Jesus. Everything else, right thinking, right living, and having a clean slate won’t do it. Only Jesus Christ can give us that fresh start. Jesus is passing by. Step out by faith believing and trusting in God. The time is short so make that fresh start right now.

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