Sermon Outline

Sermon Outline

Faith That Wavers

KEY PASSAGE: James 1:6-7

SUPPORTING SCRIPTURES: Numbers 13 | Numbers 14 | Numbers 32:23 | Deuteronomy 31:6 | Isaiah 41:9-13 | 2 Corinthians 5:8 | Galatians 6:7 | 1 John 1:9

SUMMARY

Faith is an essential aspect of the Christian life because it is the avenue through which we are saved by God’s grace and the means by which we are to live thereafter.

When we believe and obey what the Lord says in His Word, our faith grows stronger; but when we let our feelings and circumstances override our confidence in Him and His promises, our faith begins to waver.

SERMON POINTS

A Past Example of Wavering Faith

Although the Lord had repeatedly demonstrated His faithfulness to the Israelites by miraculously delivering them from Egyptian slavery, parting the Red Sea for their escape, and leading them through the wilderness, when they arrived at the border of the Promised Land, their faith faltered.

After Moses sent spies into Canaan, they reported that the land was good. However, 10 of them discouraged the Israelites by saying they were not strong enough to take the land because giants lived there. Even though two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, encouraged the people to trust the Lord who promised to give them the land, the congregation wouldn’t listen. Instead, they cried all night and wanted to go back to Egypt.

The Present Problem of Wavering Faith

  • James 1:6-7 “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord.”

Faith is a gift from God that is built upon the sure foundation of a personal relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. However, for it to grow strong and become steadfast, we must cultivate and exercise it by focusing on the Lord and His provisions and promises. Otherwise, we will be tossed about by our feelings and circumstances or the opinions of others.

Causes of Wavering Faith

  • When trusting the Lord is in conflict with human reason. Living by faith requires relying on God rather than our own analytical ability because what seems logical to us may be contrary to His will and purpose for our lives.
  • When we allow our feelings to overcome our faith. The foundation of our faith is God’s Word, which remains constant and unchanging. In contrast, emotions frequently fluctuate with circumstances and can lead us astray. No matter how we feel at the moment, we can always rely on what the Lord has said.
  • When we fail to see God at work in our circumstances. We tend to perceive the Lord’s hand working in our lives when our circumstances are good, but if difficulties, problems, or suffering come, we start to wonder where He is. Yet He has promised that He will never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). When we don’t understand what God is doing, we must remember that we live by faith, not by sight. He is always working in every situation for our good and His divine purposes. By keeping our eyes on God’s Word and His faithfulness to us in past hardships, we gain a better understanding of our difficult circumstances from His viewpoint, and our faith grows stronger.
  • When we listen to negative counsel. People are quick to give us their opinions regarding what we should do, but their advice may not align with God’s will. Any counsel we receive should come from godly people whose advice is in agreement with Scripture.
  • When we focus on our circumstances rather than on the Lord. This is always a temptation for us because we live in the midst of situations that challenge our faith. However, instead of seeing them only from our perspective, we need to look at them in light of our sovereign God who loves us. Difficult circumstances are a part of His will for our lives and the means by which He strengthens our faith. Although we may feel disappointment because things are not working out as we hoped, in reality, these difficult situations are evidences of the Lord’s love, care, and protection.
  • When we are ignorant of God’s ways. The Bible is the only place to learn about God’s ways. Therefore, if we are ignorant of Scripture, we will have trouble trusting the Lord because we won’t understand why He withholds our foolish desires or how He works in us through difficulties and hardships.
  • When feelings of guilt over past sins haunt us. We may have wavering faith because we can’t believe that God could possibly forgive us. This could be because we are still suffering the consequences of past sins or because we don’t understand the sufficiency of Christ’s payment for our sins on the cross.
  • When we listen to the lies of the devil. Satan is a liar and an accuser who is always trying to trip us up with doubts about God’s character and faithfulness to forgive sin.

Corrections for Wavering Faith

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where are these thoughts coming from? Satan’s goal is to instill doubts into our minds. When this happens, we should go directly to the Word of God to strengthen our faith in Him.
  • Did God not promise to meet all our needs? He always answers our prayer requests when they fit His plan and purpose for our lives.
  • Did God not give us the Holy Spirit to enable us to do whatever He requires in life? At the point of our salvation, the Spirit came to indwell us to guide and enable us to obey the Lord.
  • Is anything too hard for God? The answer is no, but that does not mean He will remove all pain or want from our lives because He knows exactly what difficult situations are needed to make us into the person He wants us to be.
  • Is this one of the forks in the road in which my unbelief could cause me a lifetime of regret? Since some wrong decisions carry long term consequences, we must always seek to walk in God’s will. The Lord guides us by giving us direction, answering our prayers, and helping us along the way. But we must be willing to listen and obey Him on a daily basis. Therefore the most important thing we can do is to spend time meditating upon God’s Word and talking to Him. The Scripture keeps us on track when everything else in our lives tempts us to distrust the Lord. But when our faith is linked to what He has said in His Word, it grows stronger.

RESPONSE

  • What situations cause your faith to waver? What role do your emotions or circumstances play in your outlook? Where is God in your thinking?
  • Is your faith based on what you want God to do, or on what He has said in His Word?
Bible

Bible

6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,

1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses saying,

2 Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers' tribes, every one a leader among them."

3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran at the command of the LORD, all of them men who were heads of the sons of Israel.

4 These then were their names: from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur;

5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori;

6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh;

7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph;

8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun;

9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu;

10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi;

11 from the tribe of Joseph, from the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi;

12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli;

13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael;

14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi;

15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.

16 These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land; but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.

17 When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he said to them, ``Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country.

18 See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many.

19 How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications?

20 How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land." Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.

21 So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, at Lebo-hamath.

22 When they had gone up into the Negev, they came to Hebron where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)

23 Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two men, with some of the pomegranates and the figs.

24 That place was called the valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the sons of Israel cut down from there.

25 When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days,

26 they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land.

27 Thus they told him, and said, ``We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.

28 Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.

29 Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan."

30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ``We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it."

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, ``We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us."

32 So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ``The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.

33 There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."

1 Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night.

2 All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, ``Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!

3 Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?"

4 So they said to one another, ``Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt."

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel.

6 Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes;

7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, ``The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.

8 If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us--a land which flows with milk and honey.

9 Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them."

10 But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel.

11 The LORD said to Moses, ``How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?

12 I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they."

13 But Moses said to the LORD, ``Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for by Your strength You brought up this people from their midst,

14 and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, O LORD, are in the midst of this people, for You, O LORD, are seen eye to eye, while Your cloud stands over them; and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.

15 Now if You slay this people as one man, then the nations who have heard of Your fame will say,

16 Because the LORD could not bring this people into the land which He promised them by oath, therefore He slaughtered them in the wilderness.'

17 But now, I pray, let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have declared,

18 The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations. '

19 Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now."

20 So the LORD said, ``I have pardoned them according to your word;

21 but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD.

22 Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice,

23 shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.

24 But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.

25 Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys; turn tomorrow and set out to the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea."

26 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,

27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me.

28 Say to them, `As I live,' says the LORD, `just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you;

29 your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me.

30 Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.

31 Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey--I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected.

32 But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness.

33 Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness.

34 According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition.

35 I, the LORD, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die.'"

36 As for the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land and who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing out a bad report concerning the land,

37 even those men who brought out the very bad report of the land died by a plague before the LORD.

38 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive out of those men who went to spy out the land.

39 When Moses spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people mourned greatly.

40 In the morning, however, they rose up early and went up to the ridge of the hill country, saying, ``Here we are; we have indeed sinned, but we will go up to the place which the LORD has promised."

41 But Moses said, ``Why then are you transgressing the commandment of the LORD, when it will not succeed?

42 Do not go up, or you will be struck down before your enemies, for the LORD is not among you.

43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there in front of you, and you will fall by the sword, inasmuch as you have turned back from following the LORD. And the LORD will not be with you."

44 But they went up heedlessly to the ridge of the hill country; neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses left the camp.

45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down, and struck them and beat them down as far as Hormah.

23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.

6 Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you."

9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, `You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you.

10 Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'

11 Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; Those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish.

12 You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, Those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent.

13 For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, `Do not fear, I will help you.'

8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.