Strengthening your faith in troubled times

Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches

May 4, 2003

“Strengthening Your Faith in Troubled Times:

Unwavering Faith”

Matthew 8:5-13

INTRODUCTION: When thinking about your faith, is it as solid as a barrel cactus that is unwavering, focused, immovable, growing steadily– oblivious to blazing days and cold nights? Or is it more like the delicate African violet. The smallest disturbance bruises a leaf, the slightest variance in moisture causes our faith to wilt?

How can we strengthen our faith in troubled times when we sometimes have a difficult time under normal conditions? Sometimes we feel a sense of being overwhelmed when things start coming at us from all directions. When pressures increase, we often find that our faith starts to waver. Is it possible to strengthen our faith in troubled times? Is it possible to have strong, unwavering faith?

Today’s scripture points out that it is possible.

1. Knowing the Authority of Jesus: On his way into Capernaum Jesus encountered a Roman centurion. A centurion meant that he was a career military person who was in charge of 100 men. Centurions were the military backbone throughout the empire maintaining discipline and executing orders. He understood the Roman military system where all authority was delegated. When he spoke to his men, he spoke with the emperor’s authority and so his command was obeyed without question. A soldier who defied him would not just be defying a centurion but the emperor himself.

He was a God-fearing man although he was a Gentile, an outsider. He lacked the background of Old Testament revelation that the Jews had in order to help him understand Jesus. Although this man might have had some gaps in the Old Testament heritage concerning Jesus, yet it was the knowledge he had concerning authority in his career that applied to Jesus and which was a big key to strengthening his faith during a time of great need.

In his thinking Jesus was under God’s authority and when He spoke–God is speaking. To defy Jesus was to defy God.

STORY: When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day after a busy morning chasing votes and (no lunch) he arrived at a church barbeque. It was late afternoon and he was famished. As he moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line.

“Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken.”

“Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person.”

“But I’m starved” the governor said.

“Sorry,” the woman said again. “Only one to a customer.”

Governor Herter was an unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw his weight around a little.

“Do you know who I am?” he said. “I am the governor of this state.”

“Do you know who I am?” the woman said. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along mister!”

The centurion knew that Jesus had a whole lot more authority than that. He had authority over sickness and suffering, and the centurion was very concerned about his servant who was at the point of death. He ha a genuine concern for his man. In the Matthew account, he spoke to Jesus calling him, “Lord” which was a sign of his belief in Jesus’ deity. He says, “Lord, my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” He defined the need clearly to Jesus. It was not vague and generalized. In the Message Bible he says, “Master, my servant is sick. He can’t walk. He’s in terrible pain.” He stuck to his point when making his request.

In Luke 7 we have more information about this servant–he was highly valued by the centurion and he was sick and near death (vs. 2). The Luke account tells us that the centurion sent some highly respected Jewish leaders on ahead to ask Jesus to come and heal this servant. They spoke highly of this Roman centurion. They said, “if anyone deserves your help, it’s this man. He loves the Jews and even built a synagogue for us.” So Jesus went with them.

When the need was presented clearly to Jesus, He answered the man, “I will go and heal him.” It was no big problem to Jesus. He says, “Sure, I will come and take care of the problem.”

At this point the man says, “Oh, no, I don’t want you to go to all that trouble. I’m not worthy for you to enter my house. But just say the Word from where you are. He is not backpedaling here. He is saying, I have so much confidence in you that I know that if you just say the word, it will be done. I too am a person under authority. I say go here or go there or do this or do that and it is taken care of. He didn’t need to see Jesus come to his home or lay his hands on the sick servant. He said to Jesus–”Lord, just SAY THE WORD.”

A week or so ago I put together a massive post with well over a hundred bible verses about money and talked about how we need to make sure that we always put God first in our lives before money – and everything else.

We can easily allow money to become our master, and God can quickly move to the background if we’re not careful.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24

One thing that occurred to me in the midst of listing all those verses, however, is that I never really touched on a topic that seems to be especially important right now in the midst of a double dip recession when so many people are having a hard time.  The idea of looking to God for strength in the midst of hard times.

Bible Verses About Strength

Today I decided to bring together some encouraging and challenging verses talking about how and where we need to find strength in the midst of turbulent times. I hope you find them uplifting as well.

Where Do We Find Strength?

Where do we find our strength? In the Lord our God!

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.

Nehemiah 8:10 Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him—  my father’s God, and I will exalt him!

Psalm 9:9-10 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Psalm 34:10b Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Isaiah 26: 3-4 Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.

1 Chronicles 16:11  Seek the LORD and his strength;  seek his presence continually!

Psalm 32:7-8 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Exodus 33:14 My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Psalm 34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.

Isaiah 30:15 In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.

Don’t Worry Or Fear, Find Your Strength In Him

It can be so easy to give into worry, fear and despair, but with Him we can find strength, and look forward to wonderful things.  He gives us hope!

Isaiah 43:1-3 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Luke 12:25-26 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

Philippians 4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 27: 1-3 The LORD is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me,it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;though war break out against me,even then I will be confident.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Psalm 145: 18-19 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Isaiah 12:2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

God Gives Us A Spirit Of Strength And Power

Through faith in Christ we are given a spirit of power, love and discipline, and for that reason we have nothing to fear.  We can hold onto his promises and be confident that he’ll see us through even the darkest of days.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Psalm 138:3 When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.

Psalm 16:8 I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 62:1-2 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 112: 1, 7-8 Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord. They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid.

Psalm 91:1-2 You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust.”

Psalm 112: 1, 7-8 Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord. They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid.

Hard Times May Come, But He’s There With Us Through Them All

Though we aren’t promised an easy life, we are told that Christ will be there with us when we believe in Him, that he won’t give us more than we can handle with His help,  and even our hard times can be used to glorify God.

2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

Philippians 4: 12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation . . . . I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

Isaiah 40:29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

1 Peter 5: 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Hebrews 4:16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Deuteronomy 31:6,8 Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.

 Strength In Christ Our Lord And Savior

As the verses above illustrate, we’re told to call on Jesus Christ, and that he will hear us and give us strength, hope and a grace sufficient to carry us through.  He will be our ever present help when we’re in need, and he can give us a peace that passes all understanding.  For me that’s extremely encouraging.

How about you?  Do you have any favorite bible verses about strength, and where you can find it? Did one of the verses above stick out more than the others for you?  Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Want to find more verses on Strength in the Bible and don’t have your own? Get a free Bible.

  • Bible Verses About Money
  • Bible Verses About Faith
  • Bible Verses About Hope
  • Bible Verses About Investing
  • Bible Verses of Encouragement
  • Bible Verses About How To Get Rich Quick
  • Bible Verses About Contentment
  • Bible Verses About Thanksgiving & Appreciation
  • Bible Verses About Worry
  • Bible Verses About Overcoming Adversity, Struggles And Hardship
  • Bible Verses About Wealth

Troubled Times is a short book filled with 30 days of Bible verses, which are geared to help strengthen your faith in times of trouble, adversity and difficulty, by following God’s handbook on living in this world. How do you go from no faith, to a little faith, to tremendous mountain moving faith? You do it one day at a time. Just as you have learned anything in your life. You had to learn it one bite, one piece, one letter, one number, one step, one recipe at a time. That is also how you must increase your faith. You must learn to fully trust in His power. Once you fully trust in Him, believing will come naturally. Train your mind and the rest will follow. One day at a time is all you need to start. God will do the rest. Trust and believe. He is the same today, as He was yesterday.

Dusty Crabtree

You don’t have to look far to find troubles in our world. They are all around us both locally and globally. John 16:33 even guarantees that we’ll have trouble, promising that “In this world you will have trouble…”

People all around us are concerned about things already happening in our culture, economy and politics, or things that may happen in the future. And rightly so. We should be concerned. We need to keep in mind, however, that concern is very different to worry, and that we should have a righteous concern for the things about which God is concerned.

Concern for Our World

Nehemiah 8:9 says, “This day is holy to the lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.  For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.”

The people were crying because they were realizing they hadn’t kept God’s law as they were supposed to. They had turned away from God’s word and his purposes for them and had gone their own way.

In our culture today, we have done the same.

As a culture, we have turned away from God’s word and His will for us and have selfishly taken our own path. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every single individual, just as it didn’t apply to every individual in Nehemiah’s time, but that doesn’t mean we, as a society, can’t weep and mourn for our culture as a whole.

We should be looking around us with God’s perspective. Then we can see the truth—that we’ve left God. This fact should make us mourn and cry so heavily and loudly and with such passion that heaven might hear us and send an answer. The more seriously we take our situation, the more God can use us to help fix it. Let us allow God to break our hearts for what breaks His.

Fear Not

Still, even in the midst of all the troubles we’ve brought on ourselves as a culture, God promises peace.

Let’s take a look at the full verse in John again. John 16:33 says:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Notice how in the midst of the trouble promised in this verse, Jesus also promises peace with the bold declaration that He has already overcome the world.

God is bigger than anything or anyone in the world. Everything that goes on in this life, God is in control. Nothing people can do here on earth is so significant or powerful that it would derail God from His plan. Yes, we all have free will, and some people use that against God’s will. But God can do anything and fix anything. If his plan doesn’t get done one way, He can get it done another. If one person doesn’t want to be used by God, God can use another person.

God is not limited to the constraints some people would like to put Him in. It’s not as if He’s up in heaven watching us make mistakes, saying: “Hmmm… they really screwed that up. What am I going to do now?” Nothing surprises God because He knows everything; He foresees everything. Nothing we do catches Him off guard, and nothing we do throws Him off His course.

When we worry over the troubles of this world and the chaos that people cause, we’re basically telling God we don’t have faith that He can handle running the world. In a business, if the workers screw up, the boss or manager is expected to fix it, and he or she does. Why then would we not assume God can do the same? Yes, his “business” is much bigger and on a much bigger scale, but He is also a million times more powerful. Let’s not sell our God short of what He is capable.

Jesus is the Way

If focusing on how powerful and capable God is seems difficult or daunting when the troubles of the world seem so close and real to us, we can focus on Jesus and the Spirit living inside us. We have a real-life example of who God is in the life of Jesus. We can look to him and read about his life in the Word. We can see his character, his love, his confidence, and his power when we read about him and learn about him.

We can also focus on the Holy Spirit that lives inside each of us. If the troubles of the world seem close, the Holy Spirit is closer. If we rely on His leading and rest in His comfort, we can get through any challenging time the world throws at us.

Keeping our focus on the Lord as we head forward is crucial for us today. When we’re focused on Him, peace is ours for the taking, no matter what’s going on around us. It’s when we lose our focus on Him and start focusing on the world that we grow anxious and fearful, just as Peter did after stepping out of the boat to walk on water.

Jesus told us: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” If God holds the peace we need and crave, and Jesus is the way to God, then, as Christians, we must hold fast to our relationship with Jesus and keep our focus on him. We must let him lead the way to everlasting peace.

5 Minute Mini Message on Faith in Troubled Times

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