Faith Over Fear

One reason our Christian life often feels like trial and error is that our expectations of the Lord are very low. Conversely, we experience high levels of disappointment because our expectations of people are too high....

June 16, 2024

One reason our Christian life often feels like trial and error is that our expectations of the Lord are very low. Conversely, we experience high levels of disappointment because our expectations of people are too high. When you are discouraged or disappointed, you often find yourself blaming others. “He didn’t do this,” or “She didn’t do that.” These feelings arise because you expected something from someone, and they failed to meet those expectations. This is why you feel disappointed.

At the same time, because our expectations are not placed on the Lord, we live a life of trial and error. We adopt an attitude of “If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.” We only truly call on the Lord when we have no other options, when every natural solution has failed. It’s in these moments of utter desperation that we finally seek the Lord, and He always comes through. As long as God is a Plan B in your life, you will always experience a hit-and-miss existence. If your hope in God is secondary, your life will be marked by inconsistency and frustration.
Your disappointment and discouragement are evidence of where your priorities lie. These emotions are indicators for you to assess your priorities. You don’t have to live a life of disappointment. Say it out loud: “I don’t have to live a life of disappointment.” Change your expectations from people to God. Make God your number one priority. Ask from God, expect from God.

You cannot be in faith and remain frustrated. It doesn’t work that way. You cannot be in hope and stay frustrated. When someone says, “I’m in faith, but I’m frustrated,” it means they are not truly in faith. They are just waiting for God to perform some magic in their life.

God does not perform magic. Yes, He is a God of the supernatural, but the supernatural doesn’t happen without your participation. The Bible is not a book of magic, and the promises of God are not magical. You must engage with His word. The word of God gives you principles, power, and promises. These three elements—principles, power, and promises—are provided by the word of God. However, unless you partner with the word of God, you will not see these principles, powers, and promises manifest in your life.

Consider how a woman gets pregnant. When I was 18 years old in engineering college, I was surprised to find that some of my female friends had no idea how conception worked. One friend thought it was solely an act of God, while another joked about a mosquito bite. In reality, a woman cannot get pregnant without participation. If she wants a child, it must come through her. Similarly, God cannot get something to you without getting it through you. If you expect God to act without your participation, you misunderstand how He works. God needs a channel for His blessings to flow, whether through you or someone else.

For instance, after Abraham received the promise that he would have a child, he still had to take action. He could not just stand on the promise without doing anything. The word of God will prompt you to participate with it. Abraham had to engage in the process for the promise to be fulfilled. Similarly, when you receive a word from God, you must act on it. God’s promises require your involvement.

Abraham was 99 years old, and Sarah was almost 90. Sarah wondered, “At my old age, will I have pleasure?” If God simply intended to give her a child, she wouldn’t have mentioned pleasure. She was referring to the process of conception, which involves pleasure. This implies that when God gives you a promise, you need to participate in the process for that promise to come to fruition.

If Abraham had not had relations with Sarah, she would not have become pregnant. The word of God gave strength to Abraham and Sarah, enabling them to fulfill the promise, but they still had to participate. Some women hope to get pregnant effortlessly, but you cannot claim to have faith in God while fearing certain actions.

Let’s be open: many women fear going to the doctor or the pain associated with pregnancy and delivery. This fear can prevent them from having children. Similarly, when you receive a promise from God, fear might prevent you from embracing it fully. You might be afraid of the changes the fulfillment of God’s promise will bring, such as stopping unethical behaviors or losing your comfort zone. This fear keeps you from moving forward in faith.

Abraham had to leave his country—his comfort zone—to fulfill God’s promise. Some of you remain unmarried or unfulfilled because you fear stepping out of your comfort zones. You are scared of what the promise’s fulfillment might entail. You cannot have both the promise and unbelief. The first step to receiving God’s promise is to overcome your fear and step out in faith.

You want to live in a fantasy land. You keep saying, “I want to lose weight, I want to lose weight,” but you do nothing to achieve it. This is wishful thinking. You want to lose weight but continue to consume all the sugar you can find. This is common sense: declaring God’s word while eating whatever you want is not participating with the word. You believe in the word, but without participating, the word cannot work through you.

If you say, “I’m going to get fit,” but continue to eat whatever your body craves, you are not allowing the word to work. It’s not just about what you eat; it’s the word that gives you health. However, the word must be integrated into your practical life. You cannot claim to want a healthy life while living an unhealthy lifestyle. You need to at least admit that your lifestyle is unhealthy and partner with the word to be delivered from it.

If you are content with an unhealthy lifestyle but claim to believe by faith, you are deceiving yourself. You will not see the changes you desire. You will die overweight, die poor, and fail to complete the purpose God has given you because you are not willing to let go of your comfort zone. You must decide to partner with the word and be delivered from whatever is holding you back.

Nothing in your life should have dominion over you—no fear, no shame, nothing. You cannot be comfortable with shame or fear and simultaneously claim to have faith. At least be honest with yourself. Acknowledge where you are and strive to overcome those limitations.
Do you understand what I’m saying? You cannot be comfortable with fear or shame and claim to live by faith. Be honest with yourself. Admit where you fall short and take steps to align your life with the word. Only then will you see the promises of God fulfilled in your life.

Let’s take a look at Philippians 3:16 and its context. The verse says, “Let us hold true to what we have attained.” To understand this fully, let’s start from verse 11.

Philippians 3:11-16 : that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Paul’s prayer here is to attain the resurrection from the dead. He acknowledges that he hasn’t reached this goal yet, but he continues to strive toward it. This illustrates the importance of being honest about your faith and your current spiritual state.

Paul admits that he hasn’t yet achieved his ultimate goal. This honesty is crucial. You need to be truthful about where you are in your faith journey. Yes, we are made righteous by God, but if our lifestyle does not reflect that righteousness, we must acknowledge it. It’s essential to be sincere about where you stand.

Paul continues to press on, despite not having reached his goal yet. This determination is because of the promise he has received from God. He says in verse 13 that he forgets what lies behind and strains forward to what lies ahead. He presses on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

In verse 16, Paul advises to “hold true to what we have attained.” This means being consistent with the progress we have made in our faith. Be honest about your faith and maintain the progress you have achieved. Do not deceive yourself with a false sense of spiritual accomplishment.

For instance, if you declare that you want to lose weight but continue eating unhealthily, you are not aligning your actions with your declarations. Similarly, declaring God’s promises without aligning your lifestyle with His principles is futile. Believing in God’s word requires participation and practical action.

You cannot desire a healthy life while maintaining unhealthy habits. Admit that your lifestyle is unhealthy and take steps to change it. Partner with God’s word, and let it guide your actions. If you are okay with your unhealthy lifestyle but claim to have faith, you will not see the results you desire. You need to step out of your comfort zone and let the word of God transform you.

Nothing should have dominion over you—no fear, no shame. You cannot be comfortable with these and still claim to live by faith. Be honest with yourself. Recognize where you need to grow and strive to align your life with God’s word. Only then will you see His promises fulfilled in your life.

Let me give you an example. A person who hasn’t believed God for a bicycle should not believe God for a BMW. If you haven’t exercised your faith for a small space for your church, you should not be trying to exercise your faith for a large space. Faith is like a seed that grows. You need to grow your faith gradually. It’s important to have an honest understanding of where your faith currently stands. Recognize that while you have room to grow, there is always more to receive as your faith develops. This is an opportunity to build and strengthen your faith.

You can’t simply copy someone else’s faith. For example, if I, Pastor Sam, have obtained a 5,000 square foot space, you can’t just decide to get the same thing because I did. The burden of trying to copy someone else’s faith can overwhelm you. You can only operate within the faith you personally possess. We all start with an equal measure of faith, but we can always grow into more faith. Be honest with yourself about where your faith is and work on growing it.

Abraham received the promise when he was 75 years old. When God gave him the promise, it wasn’t because God wasn’t ready. The moment God gave the promise to Abraham, God was ready to fulfill it. The delay wasn’t from God’s end but from Abraham’s. Abraham waited 25 years, not for God to fulfill the promise, but for himself to be ready to receive it.

The moment you receive a promise from God, it means He has already released it for you. It’s now up to you to receive it. Abraham didn’t wait 25 years for God to act; he waited to be in the right position to receive the promise. Similarly, the delay in seeing God’s promises fulfilled in our lives often comes from our readiness, not from God’s willingness.

We often reference the time it took for biblical figures like Abraham, David, and Joseph to see their promises fulfilled. While there is indeed a process to receiving God’s promises, the delay is not on God’s part. It’s about our readiness to receive. If Joseph’s promise took 18 years to come to fruition, it wasn’t because God was delaying—it was because Joseph needed to be prepared.

If you’re holding onto a promise and thinking, “I’m just waiting for the promise to come through,” understand that you’re not merely waiting. You need to actively grow your faith and prepare yourself to receive what God has already released. Be proactive in your faith journey and work towards being ready to receive His promises.

When you wait in faith and patience, you’ve already received the promise by faith, and you begin to live as if it’s already fulfilled in your heart. Even if you don’t see it in the physical realm, it’s real in your spirit. For example, today we are seeing a large space for the church, but I was preaching and preparing sermons with the same dedication when we were just five people meeting in a home. I would spend 10 hours preparing a sermon, not because it was necessary for a small group, but because of the vision and promise that God had given me.

The promise gave me a bigger vision, so I lived my life as if I had already received it. If I were just focusing on the present number of people, I wouldn’t need to prepare so extensively. I have a deep well within me, but my vision sees beyond the current congregation to the greater purpose God has for us. That’s why I spend time in prayer and preparation—not just to entertain, but to follow God’s voice and feed you spiritually.

When you receive a promise but don’t live as if it’s fulfilled, you haven’t truly received it in faith. For instance, if you believe in God for prosperity but complain about every small expense, you haven’t really received the promise. You might say you believe in prosperity, but your actions show otherwise. This is okay. It’s a learning process. Be honest with yourself about where your faith currently stands. Admit that you’re learning to believe.

None of us believe in the Bible fully, because if we did, we would be like Jesus. Are you like Jesus? If not, it means we don’t yet fully believe the Bible. We come to church to grow in our faith. So, be honest with yourself about where your faith is. God has given you a promise, but the question is, do you know where your faith stands in relation to that promise?

Faith needs to be nurtured and grown. If you’re just starting, it’s okay to believe for smaller things first and then grow your faith for larger things. Don’t try to copy someone else’s faith journey. Understand your own faith level and work on growing it gradually. This honesty and self-awareness will help you truly receive and walk in God’s promises.

Do you know where your faith is? Are your mind and emotions so filled with His promise that you are 100% convinced God will fulfill it? Faith is absolute conviction, a complete assurance. When a promise comes and you’re not fully convinced—perhaps only 1% convinced—it’s a start, but there’s more to grow into.

Being honest with yourself about your faith level is crucial. If you overestimate your faith, you’ll take steps that could lead to burnout. Self-deception about your faith can create an illusion of belief that isn’t there. For example, if you receive a medical report and the doctor prescribes medication, but you also receive a promise of healing from God, what should you do? If you’re not 100% convinced of your healing, you should take the medicine.

Faith doesn’t mean abandoning practical measures if your conviction isn’t complete. If you’re not fully convinced, taking the medicine is wise. Continue believing that God will heal you completely, but until you’re entirely convinced, follow the medical advice.

Some people use faith as a cover-up, refusing practical steps and then struggling as a result. This isn’t God’s fault. The struggle comes from not fully receiving what God has given. It’s important to recognize that faith and practical actions can coexist until your faith is fully matured.
Does this make sense to you? Be honest with yourself about where your faith is and take the necessary steps to grow it while also taking practical measures as needed. This balance will help you avoid unnecessary suffering and truly receive what God has promised.

This is helping you, right? When you receive a promise from God, remember that the promise contains everything needed for its fulfillment. However, it’s essential to ask yourself, “Where am I? Where is my faith level at this moment?” If your faith isn’t at 100%, you need to keep standing on that promise until it grows to full conviction.

For instance, if you’re sick and not fully convinced of supernatural healing, it’s wise to take your medication. God heals both supernaturally and medically. The medicines that bring healing are also from God. Until your faith is fully matured, you should continue with the practical steps available to you.

It’s important to act in the natural while you are building your faith. If you claim to believe in supernatural healing but your faith isn’t there yet, neglecting natural remedies is unwise. Both the supernatural and natural work together, and you shouldn’t ignore practical steps if your faith hasn’t reached a full conviction.

Another example is financial promises. If God promises you a financial breakthrough, but you have an inflated view of your faith, taking reckless financial actions like using a credit card to buy a bike isn’t faith—it’s foolishness. Until you are 100% convinced in that area, live within a budget. There are people who live supernaturally without a budget, but until your faith grows to that level, being financially responsible is crucial.

Living beyond your means and overspending on credit is not exercising faith; it’s recklessness. If your salary is X and your expenses are 2X, that imbalance is not God’s fault. We want to reach a level of supernatural financial provision, but to get there, we must stay grounded in God’s word and practice responsible financial habits.

In summary, you cannot claim to believe in God for health while constantly eating junk food. Similarly, you can’t expect financial miracles while being financially irresponsible. Faith is a journey, and it’s vital to do the practical things faithfully while growing in your faith. This balanced approach ensures that you are not living on a bloated faith but are genuinely growing into the promises God has given you.

Imagine this scenario: You’re driving downhill at high speed, speaking in tongues, but you have no control over the car. If the car crashes, the outcome will be tragic. Speaking in tongues won’t save you in that situation. Similarly, if you jump from a building’s 10th floor while speaking in tongues, gravity will still pull you down, not up. Faith cannot be used to override or manipulate the laws of nature, such as gravity, unless you have the corresponding laws like aerodynamics at play.

We often live as if simply claiming promises without practical participation will suffice. For instance, someone might declare, “Christ became poor so that I could become rich,” and then proceed to rack up debt on credit cards, expecting money to miraculously appear. When this approach fails, they may become disillusioned with God’s promises. However, the issue lies in not actively participating with the promise.

When my wife Betty and I started trusting God in our finances, things didn’t change overnight. Our initial income was incredibly low; if I were to tell you the amount, you might find it unbelievable. But we started where we were and believed God for more. We faithfully gave offerings and committed to trusting God step by step. For example, I once committed to God that every offering I gave would be at least 5,000 rupees, even when our financial situation seemed daunting.

Committing to give a specific amount in offerings is a journey of faith that starts where you are and grows gradually. When I made the commitment to give at least 5,000 rupees in offerings, I did so knowing it was a stretch for me at that time. Over the years of faithfully honoring that commitment, my faith grew. Eventually, I increased my commitment to 10,000 rupees, and then to 15,000 rupees, each step building on the last. It’s important not to rush or jump ahead in your faith journey. Just like learning in school, you start with basics before moving to more advanced topics.

Being honest with where you are in your faith journey is crucial. Don’t inflate your faith beyond where it truly is. Declare God’s promises by faith, but also be practical in your actions until your faith reaches a place of complete conviction. Taking reckless steps based on a false sense of faith can lead to struggles and disappointment.

Each person’s faith journey is unique, and trying to replicate someone else’s journey can be counterproductive. Hearing stories of others’ faith experiences is inspiring, but you must discern what God is specifically leading you to do. Jumping into actions without genuine faith can lead to burnout and confusion.

Therefore, continue stretching your faith incrementally, allowing God to expand the limits of your mind and faith. Stay committed to the process, and trust that as your faith grows, you’ll see God’s promises fulfilled in your life in ways that align with His perfect timing and direction.

There’s much to learn from someone’s faith journey in how they remained steadfast in God’s promises. Rather than copying their actions or focusing on their natural efforts, the key is to understand how they anchored themselves in the Word. You can ask them questions like, “How did you stay committed to God’s promises? What did your prayer life look like? Did you journal? What were you declaring?” It’s important not to try to mimic their journey as a shortcut in your own life. Remember, even Abraham took a shortcut with Hagar, and it had long-lasting consequences.

Consider David’s journey as well—he didn’t begin by defeating Goliath but by faithfully tending sheep. His faithfulness in small things led to his growth. Likewise, avoid burning out in your faith journey. Feeling frustrated, disappointed, or discouraged doesn’t mean you lack faith; it’s a sign to refocus on God’s Word. Just as you eat when hungry, feed your faith with God’s Word. Let it guide you when challenges arise.

Avoid comparing yourself to others’ journeys; instead, nurture your own faith. If God works through others, He can work through you too, as He shows no partiality. Embrace where you are while striving for growth. Overcome fear and shame; they are not from God.

Hebrews 12:2 – looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus endured the cross by keeping His eyes fixed on the joy set before Him. Every promise carries joy. If you focus on that joy, you won’t fear what comes your way; you’ll overcome it. Fear and faith cannot coexist. When you feel ashamed or afraid, it’s a sign to deepen your faith. Look away from pain, shame, and fear, and fix your eyes on faith—on God’s Word.

The foundation of faith is believing that God loves you. Often, we get caught up in worldly things and use faith for outcomes. When expectations aren’t met, frustration follows. True faith begins with knowing God loves you, believing His heart is for you. Today, I invite you to return to the Father, no matter where your faith stands—weak or strong, big or small. Everything starts in His embrace. Believe that God loves you deeply, cares for you, and nourishes you. Take a moment to reconcile with the Father. Simply believe: “Lord, I know You love me—even when I doubt, even when I haven’t received all You have for me, even in my unfaithfulness and distractions. I know You love me deeply.” Let the Lord minister to you.

Let the Lord minister to you, because faith can only arise from being fully convinced of His love for you. You cannot truly believe in someone you are uncertain loves you. If you desire to believe in God, start by believing in His love.

I understand you may be grappling with many challenges—your future, health, finances, and more. Yet, the foundation of operating in faith begins with knowing that you are deeply loved. Know this truth: you are loved, cherished, and valued in His presence.

Remember the disciples in the boat during the storm? Jesus walked on water towards them, and the moment He entered the boat, they immediately reached shore. Today, the focus isn’t solely on reaching shore quickly; it’s about inviting Jesus into your boat. There may be delays in your promises, unanswered prayers, and a longing for immediate change. But let the primary focus be on Jesus being with you in your journey.

Regardless of whether you see your promises fulfilled right away, fix your gaze on Jesus. Don’t let your life revolve around promises, healing, breakthroughs, prosperity, future, or relationships. Let your life revolve around Jesus. Center everything upon Him—refresh your relationship with Him now.

God desires to be more than just a part of your life; He longs to be your everything. Make Him the center of your existence, singing, “Lord, You are all I need, all I want.” Let this be the anthem of your life, continually centered on Jesus.

So, whether or not your promises have come to pass, do you see Jesus? Do you feel the Father’s love? Receive His love afresh today. Remember, faith springs from love, and hope is anchored in His love.

About the author

Samuel Thomas

Samuel is a second-generation pastor with a rich heritage in the Holy Spirit. He has been the pastor of Lighthouse Church since 2017 with a two-word mission statement: transforming lives. Samuel's priority in life has been to know Christ and to grow deeper in His love.

Recent Sermons