As you read the gospels you find that one thing Jesus was constantly looking for, like a prospector looking for gold, was faith. When He found it, how His heart rejoiced!  Nothing moved Jesus more with joy than when He found a man or woman who believed.


And when he failed to find faith it was as if the heart went out of Him. He just couldn't understand it.


"0 faithless and perverse generation! How long am I to be with you? How long am I going to have to put up with you?"


- When Jesus found selfishness in a man, He could understand it.


- When He found lust, He could understand it.


But unbelief He just couldn't accept. How can these people be so blind?


To Jesus, faith was the basic thing. If He could find faith in a man, the man could be transformed - his body could be healed. Without faith, there was nothing Jesus could do. And to be without faith was inexcusable. He never sympathized with people who couldn't seem to be­lieve. Unbelief was not some handicap they were born with, it was, to Jesus, the sign of an evil heart.


George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement, described people as either tender or hard. "As I spoke in such-and-­such a place," he would say, "the people were very tender." By tender he did not mean they were soft in the head or weak. He meant that they were receptive to the truth of God. Their hearts were like soil where you could really plant seed. They had faith.


And that's exactly how it is when the truth of God is spoken to people.


- They are either tender toward it,

- or hardened against it.


The inmost heart of every person has a tender side and a hard side. Each person keeps turning their heart, exposing to the outside of their life the tender side, or the hard side, as they choose.


When she hears something she wants to receive, she turns the tender side to receive it.


When he hears something that he doesn't want to hear, he turns the hard side of his heart so that it bounces off.


"Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean!" That's the cry of a heart that is tender toward the Lord.


"Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed. For I too am a man with authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this man go and he goes and to another come, and he comes, and to my ser­vant do this and he does it." The Centurian's heart has turned its tender side toward the power of God.


This is faith. And how quickly Jesus responds to that faith.


- "I will, be thou clean."

- "Go thy way. As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.''


But when that faith is missing, when people's hearts are hard toward the truth of God — hard when Jesus comes into their midst — they get exactly what they expect: nothing.


Jesus performed no mighty works in Nazareth because He found no faith — only hardened hearts.


"Who does he think he is, this carpenter's son, trying to be some kind of prophet?"


Among these He did nothing. He gave them what they ex­pected. And He will perform no miracle in our town, or anywhere else, unless He finds faith — tender, re­ceptive, open hearts.


Those who, years ago, were  making headlines with their books about their discovery that, as they would say, God is dead, are living proof of what I'm trying to say. They may have been professors in theological seminaries, but all they discovered was that for them, God is dead,


- because they had no faith,

- they've turned the hard side toward God.


So God is dead, and will be dead for them, until the day they die.  Then they'll find out who's really dead.


Then there are those who have imaginary faith.


"0 yes, I believe in Jesus Christ,

            I believe every Word in the Bible."


But when they see a fellow man in need, they pass him by. And when someone injures them, they seek revenge. And when the world starts persecuting Christians, they run and hide. They may belong to a church, but they don't belong to Jesus Christ. They don't know what it is to live by faith.


When you have faith,


- your heart is tender toward God,

                                   toward God's commands,

                                   toward God's love,

                                   toward God's people.

                                 toward God's special care: the rejected ones of this world.


- Your heart is so attached to Jesus that you'll do anything to please Him. You'll pay any price to    avoid displeasing Him.


When you have faith, you know that Jesus Christ is with you. Sometimes you get direct leadings,   sometimes you are aware only of the throbbing of His Spirit within you. But you know He is there, and you rejoice in Him.


When you have faith, you ask God to stretch forth His hand with redemptive power, and it is done.


- "I will, be thou clean."

- "As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee."


By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous; God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.


By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.


But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.


Perhaps someone is saying, "But what if I don't have any faith? Even when I try, I just can't seem to believe. I can't believe that these miracles ever happened. I can't believe that there ever was a resurrection. And when you tell me Jesus is here with miraculous power today, I wish I could believe you but I can't. You say my heart is hard, but why am I this way? Why can't I believe?"


If there is any such person reading this who knows deep within that he really has no faith, here are the reasons:


First, your eyes are on looking for approval to men instead of to God.

How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only.


- You'll never have faith so long as you're constantly looking for human approval..


- You'll never have faith so long as you crave status.


- You'll never have faith so long as you worry about people laughing at you or belittling you.


The child of this world forms his opinion of himself on the basis of what his friends and associates think of him. If they accept him, he accepts himself. Doctors tend  to associate with doctors, and lawyers socialize with lawyers, and teachers with teachers, and clergymen with clergymen, and policemen with policemen. This is where they get their sense of identity, their assurance of who they are.  Apart from faith, we all tend to gravitate toward our own particular "mutual admiration society."


But the child of God never seeks honor from men. He/she  seeks the honor which comes from God only.


You want to have faith? Forget about your human audience and the honor they can give you. Seek the honor that comes from God only.


If you have no faith the second reason is because your heart is wrapped up in yourself instead of in God.


He spake this parable unto certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and

 des­pised others.


- Trusted in themselves.

- All taken up with themselves.

 — Crazy about themselves.


''God I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess."


That's not a prayer. There's not an ounce of faith in it. That man couldn't have faith, he was too wrapped up in himself.


It's not that God is hard to find, or hard to believe in. God is so very near and

so wonderfully real. It's just that in order to see God you have to take your thoughts off yourself and put them on Him.


- When your eyes are on men for approval instead of God — you can have no faith.


- When your heart is wrapped up in yourself instead of fixed on God — you can have no faith.


And finally, you can have no faith when your soul is given to an idol instead of God.


Thou shalt have no other gods before me.


If you have given your soul to something other than God, your soul cannot know God. I see a row of idols with souls of professing Christians prostrate before them. These idols are as old as the earth. They are the same idols that led the Israelites astray time and again.


I see the idol of gold — money god — with souls at its feet, men and women who are serving it with all their heart. "Success in the Market, in Good Times and Bad" — that's what they like to read. "How to Grow Wealth and Keep it."


The sex god is enjoying a greater revival than it has known since old Babylon was in full swing.

It gets more publicity,

          more disciples,

          more hymns of praise,

          more television time. You can't give your soul to this idol and have faith in the living God.


Since time immemorial men have worshipped the god of war. And the strange thing about this idol is that his followers are not the soldiers dying on the battlefield, but just about everyone else, including the peace demonstrators. The soldiers on the battlefield are the lives being sacri­ficed by the nations to this idol.


Your soul is doing service to the god of war every time you think hatred, or talk hatred, or clench your fists watching boxers beating each other's brains out.


- Every time you're glad to see an "ethnic" get "put in his place."


- Every time you get caught up in a TV bloodbath..


You can't fill your mind with the spirit of bloodshed and have faith in God.


Some people put their souls at the feet of the god of things. And their bible is the Sears Catalogue,

and their temple is Wal-Mart. They live to shop. They live to get their minds filled with an endless river of things they want.


"After I get that beige skirt, I'm going to get that pink hat."


"After I get a band saw, I'm going to buy a new rifle."


You cannot give your soul to mammon and have faith in God.


Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve.


When a man has his eyes on other men for approval, and his heart is wrapped up in himself, he cannot have faith in God.   When a woman is serving Mammon, she cannot have faith. When the heart is tender toward itself and the things it wants, it remains hard toward eternal truth.


We may go to church and try to believe.

We may read our bible and try to concentrate.

But we will find it a useless effort until we turn that tender side of our hearts toward God and drink in his words of life.


God is close to you. The Spirit of His Son Jesus is closer to you than your own breath. You don't have to search to find Him, He's right there. Just turn that tender side upward to Him. Call on His name.


"Lord, if you will you can make me clean."


"Lord, speak the word only and I shall be delivered from my sin, made your child forever."

And the Son of God will answer your faith.


"As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee."


            Lord, tenderize our hearts toward you!