Over the last few weeks we have been looking at growing our faith. Our key verse from Hebrews 11:1 says: “faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”
If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the last few messages, I’d encourage you to scroll down and listen to them - they contain some encouraging teaching on faith.
This week our focus is on a couple of examples from the Old Testament book of 2 Kings of people who showed courageous faith. The reading comes from 2 Kings 4:1-37.
In this passage we meet two women who both come to the prophet Elisha. Both of these women have met incredible obstacles. The first woman we encounter is a widow who needs a breakthrough in the area of provision. We see that her husband, a man who loved the Lord and was part of a group of prophets has died and left the family in debt. It was custom at the time that when someone was in debt their children could be taken as slaves in payment for the debt. We see she has no way of paying the debt herself – she is destitute with nothing but a small amount of oil. Her act of coming to the Elisha is one of complete desperation.
The circumstances of the second woman we meet in 2 Kings 4:8 are quite different in many ways – but she too has met a challenge that seems completely insurmountable. She is not in poverty like the widow, rather she is wealthy enough to build an extra room on their home for Elisha when he passes through. Yet she has a problem – her husband is old and they have no child to inherit their land and look after them when they are old. Because of her generosity and faithfulness to the things of God, she is blessed a child. We read that one day when he is older, the boy suddenly is struck ill while working in the field and dies. Her only child, a miracle in his birth, is now dead and her plight is seemingly hopeless.
Yet the response of these two women, and Elisha shows us the importance of having courageous faith!
I’d encourage you to listen along as we explore the miracles that these two women receive.
As we continue to focus on our theme for 2018 – Grow – it is important that we strive to grow our faith!
Scripture defines ‘faith’ for us. Hebrews 11:1 says,
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
Faith is about perspective – it challenges us that there are two perspectives from which we can view our day to day life.
Faith provides us a different perspective to what we normally see. It shifts our eyes from the temporal – the things that fade to things eternal. It shifts our eyes from our circumstance to know that we are called of God – we have the promise of eternity.
2 Corinthians 4:8 says,
So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
What a challenge this can be! We see this different ‘gaze’ displayed in a practical sense in a number of places in scripture.
Often though, as we face new things or unexpected challenges, we adopt a perspective of fear. The Israelites faced this same issue as they stood on the cusp of entering the promised land – and stepping into the promises of God.
Fear makes us forget that the God we serve is not confined by the challenges that we face or the circumstances we find ourselves in. When we seek God – praying that he will show us the spiritual realm, we take confidence in Him, and our faith that He will bring his promises to pass.
If you or someone in your family is struggling at the moment with a lack of faith – I’d encourage you to listen along to be encouraged and challenged – and cry out to God align your vision with His. You can be confident that He hears your prayer!
It is very easy to drift in to a small limited life where we simply go through the motions and live within our natural limits and abilities. Our challenge is to live by faith – living beyond ourselves. God calls us to live by faith and not by sight. This means being willing to join Peter and get out of the boat with no guarantee of success but a guarantee of God’s favour and blessing.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Three principles to live large:
1) Living Large is living a life that is not possible when relying only upon your natural abilities.
2) Living Large is living beyond what you can see.
3) To live large you have to step away from your safety net. If you don’t then it cannot be called faith.
Ask yourself: how large am I living?
Remind yourself that we serve a God who is able!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Some people are fans of fishing. While I’m not a big fan, I don’t mind it probably because when it comes to those kinds of things I’m an optimist. I always think that the next cast of the line will be the one where I catch a big fish.
We read in John 21 an incredible story of a big fishing haul. It was only 3 and a half years before the moment captured in this passage, that the same group of men we read about here had been walking by these same shores and had met a man named Jesus – who called out to them and told them to follow Him. They started the journey with so much hope and expectation – perhaps they did not quite realise what they were getting themselves into, but there was something different about the man who called to them that day. They knew the promises of the scriptures – the Messiah was prophesied to come, perhaps this was the moment and this was the man who would set them free from the Romans.
Here in John 21, the disciples had found themselves back by the water in Galilee after the turbulent few weeks that had followed Christ’s death and resurrection.
It is not hard to imagine the disappointment they now felt. They had imagined the Messiah as someone who would set them free from earthly oppression, but that hadn’t happened. Life as they had once known had been put on hold for years, and now they were back to it. I am sure they asked themselves: what now?
Peter, who had frequently proclaimed his love for Christ, had failed so spectacularly and carried that failure as a heavy burden. I am sure he too asked himself, what now? Can I ever come back from this?
As the disciples walk along the waters edge, Peter makes a suggestion (John 21:3)
3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows,[c] have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore.
The exchange that follows tells us all about how Jesus leads and encourages us when we deal with failure, disappointment and the unexpected.
I encourage you to listen along as we explore some practical tips together.
Easter Sunday – a wonderful day when we celebrate that Jesus died and rose again. For the final week of our 'Devoted' series we look at how the early church was devoted to the breaking of bread or as it is now often called, the Lord’s Supper or Communion. This wasn't a ritual for them, rather they did it because they were devoted to Jesus.
The best place to start is to look at that final meal that Jesus had with His disciples. Jesus took a regular part of the meal, the bread and made an amazing statement. As Luke 22:19 says:
...He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Jesus took the cup of wine, again a regular part of the meal and spoke about it. Luke 22:20:
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."
The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was doing. When Jesus was arrested and then crucified, the disciples were scattered and afraid. But then on the third day Jesus rose again. Death could not hold Him. Jesus had overcome sin and death for our sake. He was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. After His resurrection He appeared to many people and the words He had spoken now made sense.
As people responded to Jesus in obedience, as they repented of their sins and received forgiveness through Him, they were brought into a new community. These new believers saw how Jesus had brought together people from all different backgrounds and how they were bound to one another. They were unable to exclude those who had believed in Christ, but nor could they include those who had not. As they took the same simple elements that Jesus had on that night, they knew that once and for all their sins were forgiven, that they had new life and peace with God.
As we join in the Lord’s Supper we are declaring that we are also a new community brought together by Jesus. His sacrifice for our sin has brought us peace with God and peace with each other. As we take the elements we are remembering what Jesus has done and declaring our devotion to our Lord and Saviour.
I pray that you find the joy, peace and forgiveness that there is for you in Jesus as you humble yourself and in repentance respond to His sacrifice and live in the newness of life that He has for you.