Mo 1/16Tu 1/17We 1/18Th 1/19Fr 1/20Sa 1/21Su 1/22
Gen. 17
Matt. 16
Gen. 18
Matt. 17
Gen. 19
Matt. 18
Gen. 20
Matt. 19
Gen. 21
Matt. 20
Gen. 22
Matt. 21
Gen. 23
Matt. 22

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

As we read Genesis and Matthew, it is fitting to say a few words about faith. After all, we are reading in Genesis about Abraham, our father in the faith who was justified by faith, not by works (see Rom. 5; Gal. 4). Here are two ways we’ll see Abraham demonstrate his faith in our reading this week:

  • In Genesis 18, Abraham pleads with the LORD not to destroy the righteous along with the wicked in Sodom. Abraham believes (has faith) that God is just, and asks Him (trusting that God will listen) to act in accordance with His own character. Amazingly, God listens (as Abraham believed He would) and responds repeatedly to Abraham’s requests.
  • In Genesis 22, Abraham obediently seeks to sacrifice his only begotten son Isaac as an offering to the LORD. Hebrews 11:19 teaches us that Abraham did this because he “considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead.” In other words, Abraham had faith (believed, trusted) that God had power to make good on His promise to bless Abraham’s descendants through Isaac, even in the face of death itself.

The Gospel of Matthew teaches us wonderful and often surprising things about the nature of faith:

  • Two weeks ago we read of the God-fearing centurion whose faith seems to have surprised even Jesus. The centurion believed that Jesus was powerful enough to heal his servant without Jesus even coming to his house. Jesus “marveled and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel’” (Matt. 8:10). In response to the centurion’s faith-filled request, Jesus ended up accomplishing a miracle in a manner in which He was seemingly not initially intending to. 🤯
  • It is often Gentiles (which is to say, those who were far off from the promises of God) who surprised Jesus with their faith. Like the centurion, the Syrophoenician woman in Matthew 15 astounded Him. Even after Jesus apparently attempted to turn her away by comparing her to a dog, she joyfully accepted the comparison, refusing to let Him go until He blessed her. “Then Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed at once” (Matt. 15:28).
  • On the flip side of all this, we read last week that Jesus “did not do many miracles” in Nazareth “because of their unbelief” (Matt. 13:58).

Faith is the means by which we have access to God. Faith itself is not power to accomplish great things. It matters what your faith is in. If you believe in yourself, you will fall flat on your face. If you believe in God, “nothing will be impossible to you” (Matt. 17:20). Faith in Christ means that we have access to His power.

And it’s not our faith that empowers Him. He does not need our faith to do great things. When He was in Nazareth, it was not that He could not do many miracles because of their unbelief; He simply did not do many miracles. (For further clarification on this, see here.) Christ’s mighty acts are for those who trust Him. We should not expect Him to do great things if we do not believe that He will listen to us and that He is able to do far more abundantly than we could ever ask or think.

The wonderful encouragement is that faith pleases God. In fact, it is the only thing that pleases Him. Obedience and good works do please Him, but only when they are done with faith. Without faith, they are detestable to Him. Works can look good on the outside but be accompanied by an unbelieving heart. This is why faith is set in opposition to works in places like Romans 3. What pleases God is a heart that trusts in Him. (But don’t forget, a faithful heart will also produce outward obedience.)

If we have faith, God is bound by His own promises to listen to us and grant what we ask of Him. The gospel accounts of the New Testament make this abundantly clear when Jesus responds to people’s faith-filled pleas. In fact, the Holy Spirit shows us that God is so bound by His promise to respond to faith that one woman touches Jesus’s clothes without Jesus even knowing, and she is healed. “Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched My garments?’” (Mark 5:30). God is a rewarder of those who seek Him!

And no, of course, you do not have perfect faith. But don’t get too tangled up and discouraged by trying to assess how genuine, pure, or deep your own faith is. You’re not a good judge of how much faith you have, nor of how perfect that faith is. Trust God to be the judge of that. He is kind and reasonable, which is why He tells us that “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, … nothing will be impossible to you” (Matt. 17:20). Seek after Jesus Christ and His glory, and God will do powerful things in and through you.

VERSES TO MEDITATE ON

Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, … even if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.
—Matthew 21:21–22

HOW TO PRAY

  • Adoration – Praise God for being a God who invariably helps those who trust in Him.
  • Confession – Confess the sin of lack of faith: not trusting that God will listen to your prayers, or not trusting that God has power to answer your prayers. He does listen, and He does have power to grant your requests.
  • Thanksgiving – Thank the Lord for three specific answers to prayer in the last week.
  • Supplication – Pray for something that would be impossible without God.

Click HERE to ask the pastors a question about anything in your Bible reading.

This post by Alex McNeilly

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.

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