Imagine how different your outlook on life would be if you had absolute confidence that God was with you. Imagine how differently you would respond to difficulties, temptations, and even good things if you knew with certainty that God was in all of it and was planning to leverage it for good. In other words, imagine what it would be like to have perfect faith.
In this 6-part series, Andy Stanley builds a biblical case for five things God uses to grow BIG faith. DOWNLOAD ONLY
Part 1 - Big Faith (Andy Stanley)
Imagine how different your outlook on life would be if you had absolute confidence that God was with you? Imagine how differently you would respond to difficulties, temptations, and even good things if you knew with certainty that God was in all of it and was planning to leverage it for good. In other words, imagine what it would be like to have PERFECT faith.
Sermons come in all shapes and sizes. But if you listen closely, you’ll hear God saying the same thing in most sermons—trust me. That’s not to say that the message in the Bible is shallow and simplistic. Rather, in all the ways that you could respond to God, the most important thing that God is asking you to do is to trust him. When things are going well, it doesn’t require a lot of faith to trust God. But when life turns messy, is your faith leading you to depend on God, or do you put your trust in something else?
In the next several weeks, we’ll discuss five catalysts that God uses to build that kind of faith. For this week, reflect on what have been the most faith-building events/relationships in your life. How have these things affected your confidence in God?
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Matthew 8:10
Part 2 - Practical Teaching (Andy Stanley)
It’s one thing to know a lot about weightlifting and another thing to actually lift weights. It’s one thing to know a lot about nutrition and another thing to eat healthy. Similarly, it’s one thing to know a lot about the Bible and another thing to actually live out what it teaches. That’s why the Christian life isn’t just about knowledge. It’s when our acts of faith intersect with God’s faithfulness that our faith grows. From Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish builders, we discover that hearing and learning are not enough. The value is in the application, because, in the end, it’s obedience that makes all the difference.
“Unapplied truth is like paint. It doesn’t do anybody any good until it is applied.”
We can be the most learned of believers, but if our knowledge doesn’t move us toward application, then our faith will wither. The Bible challenges us to respond to God’s truth in many different ways: love your enemies, show forgiveness, and practice generosity. What have been the most difficult truths from the Bible for you to apply?
Identify two areas of your life where a bit more application would make a noticeable difference. And then apply.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." Matthew 7:24-27
Part 3 - Providential Relationships (Andy Stanley)
If you are like most people, you can’t tell your life story without referencing people who played significant roles along the way. The same is true of your faith story. In this third installment of Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith, Andy explains the role that providential relationships play in the development of our faith.
The promise from Proverbs 13:20 can be read alongside a similar warning from the New Testament: Bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor. 15:33). The Bible makes it clear that certain relationships are pivotal in our spiritual development, while others can lead us in directions we never intended to go.
But we don’t live in a vacuum. We’re surrounded by wisdom and foolishness from all sides. Is it possible to completely ignore the companionship of fools? Should you? How do you balance the relationships in your life that strengthen your faith and the relationships that could inhibit your spiritual growth knowing full well that these relationships could also be the pivotal for others to draw closer to God?
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20
Part 4 - Private Disciplines (Andy Stanley)
In this session of Five Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith, you will be introduced to the role private spiritual disciplines play in the development of our faith. Drawing from Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, Andy explains how God leverages systematic prayer and generosity to grow our confidence in him.
The notion of a discipline being essential to an authentic, heart-felt relationship may seem strange. After all, discipline is about routine. A relationship is fluid. But if you think about it, every healthy relationship is held together partly by disciplined actions and routines. Perhaps the easiest way to understand the importance of discipline in a relationship is to consider a relationship without boundaries. All self- imposed boundaries are a form of discipline. Imagine a marriage in which neither partner practices self- control. The marriage would eventually deteriorate.
Our relationship with God shares a similar dynamic. Abandoning these practices leaves God at the periphery of our lives. Regularly practicing these disciplines, however, draw us into a closer, more intimate, more dependent relationship with our heavenly Father. What will you do this week to establish both giving and prayer as a regular discipline?
"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:2-4
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35
Part 5 - Personal Ministry (Andy Stanley)
If you have ever volunteered to do something for which you felt totally unqualified, then you already know what an experience like that can do for your faith. One of the primary ways God grows our faith is through personal ministry. In this lesson we will explore the relationship between our faith and our service to others.
“Aren’t you glad somebody took a chance, ignored his fear, stepped through the door of his own insecurity in order to serve you?”
Personal ministry enables us to experience God’s power in our weakness. We may feel ill-equipped and unprepared, but these opportunities are incredibly rich experiences through which God grows our faith. At first, you may perform an act of personal ministry or service in order to benefit someone else. In hindsight, though, most people feel like they are the ones that have benefited the most.
Identify a skill, talent, or experience (your fish and loaves) to exercise this week as a measure of personal ministry. Have each group member pray a sentence prayer making this skill, talent, or experience available to God to use as he sees fit. Or have group members simply express their availability to God to be used in his service.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:19-21
Part 6 - Pivotal Circumstances (Andy Stanley)
Life is full of surprises - some good, some not so good. But each unexpected event that comes our way is actually a divine opportunity. In this installment of Five Things God Uses To Grow Our Faith, we’ll discover the role that pivotal circumstances play in the development of our confidence in God.
Often times, what shapes our response to these pivotal circumstances is the support that we have around us during these experiences. Is there a community? . . . Are there providential relationships? . . . that help us frame these circumstances in a way for us to see that God is not doing something to us, but is doing something in us and through us. With that in mind, close your group time by praying for the individuals or couples in your group who are currently facing a faith-stretching trial.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4