Get to Mark 11:22 in your Bibles, please. In about a month, I will have completed 15 years as your Pastor. Each year, I have introduced a theme for the church to help us move forward in our spiritual journey as a group. The last two years were called the “Year of Equipping” and the “Year of Wellness,” but Covid derailed so many of our plans that I decided I really couldn’t come up with a theme and believe we could carry it forward. I suppose if I was going to pitch a theme to you for this year, it would be “The Year of the Unknown.” How does that sound, “The Year of the Unknown?” It doesn’t really make for a good Facebook meme, does it? I’m sure it doesn’t motivate you to want to invite your friends and neighbors to church. “Hey, come with me on Sunday as we continue to talk about ‘The Year of the Unknown.’” That’s not a very compelling pitch to invite someone to a faith journey. Or is it?
What if we focused on leaving the unknown year to a known God who knows all things, the God who invites us to trust Him? Or what if it was really “The Year of Faith?” I cannot take credit for the next thing I am going to share. It came to me via Russ Fairchild. He came up with an awesome acronym for “faith.” He says that “Faith” stands for
Awesome, RIGHT? That is the most basic and yet most exquisite definition for faith that I have ever heard. If the Pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught us that we don’t know anything. We can study something and draw conclusions, but those conclusions are subject to change in a few months and sometimes quicker. We can plan something, but it’s just a plan, no matter how many details or assurances we put in place, because at the last minute, the plan can change due to issues beyond our control. There have been twists and turns over the last two years that I would never have predicted. The only thing that has personally gotten me through is my faith in the Lord which has been supported by the fellowship of His children.
There have probably been times in my life when I could sort of get by with acknowledging the Lord, worshiping Him, learning of Him with intention, but when I didn’t have to rely on in Him every second of every day like I have had to during the past two years. Does anyone know what I am talking about? I’m also a pretty independent person, but I have had to count on the prayers of God’s people and friends that could encourage and lift me like never before. But as a result, my faith has really grown.
Mark 11:22 may be the second shortest verse of Scripture, but it contains everything we need to know to be an overcomer in this life.
Mark 11:22 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. Friends, you can trust an unknown future to a known God who knows all things. As I read the rest of the text, I want to highlight that faith, like a coin, has two sides to it.
23 “Truly[a] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
When I read those verses, I see that there is a believing faith and a receiving faith.
I think both kinds of faith are critical for the believer to live a strong and productive spiritual life. Believing faith is the releasing of expectation that the toughest mountain you face is no match for the Almighty God.
Watch and listen to this song by CeCe Winans that expresses what I think God wants us to express for ourselves:
Can you believe for your miracle today? When Missy Weiford learned on Wednesday that she had a metastases at the base of her skull on the left side which explains sickness she has endured since December 17th, her response was: “This is another part of my story. God has always seen me through, and this will be no different.”
That, my friends, is believing faith. Notice she didn’t say, “The oncologists at Thomas Hospital are great people. They have helped me before.” While that may be a true statement, it wasn’t where she was placing her faith. Notice she didn’t say, “I’m tough. I can beat this.” Guaranteed Missy Weiford is some-kind-of-tough. She has been through a lot for sure, but she isn’t relying on herself to make it through this. Her hope is in God. Her statement was determined, resolute and immediate. There wasn’t panic. There was praise. There wasn’t defeat, there was deliberate expression of her faith.
People with believing faith believe that God is writing their story. God is in charge of their course. God has a plan. When the oncologist gave Bob and Missy the results of her test, God was not sitting on the edge of His throne saying, “Oh boy, I wasn’t expecting that news. What do I do now?” He knew what the results will be. He was ready for the news, and the immediate response from Missy was, “God’s in control. God will move the mountain.”
Confessing believing faith is a must for believers if they are going to see the way through. When you confess believing faith you are getting your eyes on your Help! Isn’t that what you want? When you are in trouble, don’t you want help? When you confess believing faith you are inviting God to open your eyes to see where and how He is working. When you don’t have a believing faith, you are choosing darkness over the light, defeat instead of deliverance. Do you have a believing faith?
The other side to faith that we can see in our Mark 11 text is a receiving faith. Look again at verse 24: Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Where believing faith is the confession that God has a plan, that God is in control, that God will move on your behalf, that you are His child and that He takes care of His own, receiving faith says, “On the authority of God’s Word and promises, I receive the help that God is working to give to me.”
Listen, sometimes even believers can work against the God who is trying to help them.
It takes humility to receive help. It takes faith to receive help. When you ask for prayer, don’t say to yourself, “I hope this helps.” “I hope this isn’t for nothing.” “I hope God can hear my prayer with all of the other people He is listening to right now.” Listen, none of that is an expression of faith. None of that is going to move you forward in faith or open the door for God to move.
“Well, Pastor Melissa, are you saying that God has a part to play, and we also have a part to play in the stuff of miracles?” Ding, ding, ding! Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Bingo! Eureka, you’ve got it! If you pray for help, and God sends it in a way that feels awkward or uncomfortable, in a way that would require you humble yourself to admit a need or to receive help through the person He sends, but you refuse the help because of pride or feelings of inadequacy, you don’t have a receiving faith.
Many of you come forward for prayer every week or put prayer requests on your blue card or send us requests through our Facebook page or via email, and when you do, you need to declare, “Thank you, God, for what you are going to do. Thank you, God, for the help that is on its way. Thank you, God for setting your plan into motion. I receive what you have for me. I look for it. I am eager to obtain it. By faith, it is already in my mailbox or by faith it is already done in my body or by faith when I need whatever I have asked for, it will be there.”
I’ve told y’all the story of how when our daughter was a High School sophomore, I was stressing out about having the money to send her to college. The Holy Spirit invited me into a journey of faith and trust. God rebuked me first by saying, “Why are you worried about college money when she is a sophomore in High School? When it is time for college money, it will be there. Right now it isn’t time for college money, so you are worried and stressed over something you don’t even need right now.” I think He then said, “Stop it.”
Sometimes before we can receive from God, we need to repent for not trusting Him in the first place. I had to do just that in that moment. Did we receive college money right after that? No, because we didn’t need it right then, but what I received covered the gap between the time I had to trust God and the time I needed Him to supply. I received peace that passed all understanding. I quit worrying. I released my burden, and by faith, I received the resources that would be needed when the time came. I literally checked it off my list of concerns as if it was done, because it was.
That is receiving faith. When we have relinquished control of the outcome, when we have relinquished control of the timetable, and when we lay claim to what God will bring, by faith as if it is already in our possession, that is receiving faith.
There is part of this two-sided faith that others can help you with. Sometimes it is tough to believe God for your miracle. That’s why you need to be involved with believers who know how to pray, who know how to take you before the throne, who know how to speak over you in ways that encourage your faith. Everyone needs some friends like the four friends of the paralytic that literally carried his mat to Jesus so that he could be healed.
I can believe God to move in your situation, but I can’t receive your miracle for you. Maybe that is what makes receiving faith even more critical. I know it’s hard when you can’t see it, when you don’t understand how it will happen, but you need to thank God for your healing or your financial miracle or the resolution to a relational conflict WHEN YOU PRAY, even before you see the answer.
As you pray and release receiving faith, you are releasing God to take care of the situation the way He sees fit. Sometimes, we are only willing to receive what we ask for the way we ask for it to be done, but receiving faith is our expression that the will of God will satisfy our need in its entirety because the ways of God are best. That may be the expression of faith on its deepest level. “Not my will, but Yours be done.” God, I receive what YOU have. In prayer, I express my desires, but then I release my expectations that God move according to my desires and receive what His perfect will has planned. I guarantee God’s perfect will will accomplish greater things than even our most righteous desire, but we have to have a desire to receive that miracle versus the one we “ordered” in prayer.
Sometimes I think we can believe that God can and does things big things, but we aren’t so sure He will do them for us. This receiving faith is where the rubber meets the road. It is where you, like Abraham in the Old Testament, lay hold of God’s promises and walk by faith with great expectation that God will fulfill every one of them. It is a step by step, daily dependence upon God. Isn’t that what God was trying to teach the Israelites with the manna feedings in the desert? He invited them into a daily dependence on, a daily receiving from Him. Believing faith says, “God you can and will.” Receiving faith says, “God you have. I just haven’t seen it yet in the natural.”
Take a look at this video as I begin to close:
God has your situation covered. Trust Him. Receive what He has for you by faith and by staying close to Him. You can’t strike out on your own and then wonder where God is. He is at the place of provision. He is at the place of restoration. He is house of miracles. Run to Him.
What you can know in the unknown is that God is for you (Romans 8:31) and is working all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). Believe and receive these promises by faith today.