Monday, March 23, 2020

It Shall Be Well 2 Kings 4:18-37

It Shall Be Well

Text: 2 Kings 4:18-37

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Turn in your Bibles to 2 Kings 4:18-37 

A ship, like a human being, moves best when it is slightly athwart the wind, when it has to keep its sails tight and attend to its course. Ships, like men, do poorly when the wind is directly behind, pushing them sloppily on their way so that no care is required in steering or in the management of sails; the wind seems favorable, for it blows in the direction one is heading, but actually it is destructive, because it induces a relaxation in tension and skill. What is needed is a wind slightly opposed to the ship, for then tension can be maintained, and juices can flow and ideas can germinate; for ships, like men, respond to challenge. -  James Michener, Chesapeake

Today we are facing a challenge in our nations and in our own lives. A dangerous pandemic has swept out of China and claimed thousands of lives. In responding to the disease nation after nation has shut down. People are being told not to leave their homes, business are closed, gatherings of people over ten are being strongly discouraged and even churches like ours are keeping their doors closed. None of us living today have experienced anything like this.

For a long time we have been like the ship with the wind at our back, enjoying the ride as year after year our lives have been gently and almost without effort on our part, pushed toward prosperity, health and ever higher expectations. But now the wind seems to have turned and it is now a question of how we will respond as a nation and as individuals.

For the Christian there is only one way to respond and that is by turning to God in faith. The sermon today is a story of a crisis of faith and how the people caught up in that crisis acted. Like every story and truth in God’s Word, it has much to teach us about meeting the challenge that we face today.

The Crisis of Faith 2 Kings 4:18-21

And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers.    And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out.

The Great Loss

We have jumped to the point of crisis in this story but it doesn’t begin here at the crisis. It begins back in verse 8 of this same chapter. Tell the story's background and the loss of the child. The woman in the story is always called the Shunammite, she lived in the little village of Shunem, which was in the tribe of Issachar, north of Jezreel and south of Mount Gilboa a little south of Nazareth near the center of Israel.

With the death of her child, there was a crisis of faith.
Here were the facts she must face and the facts that her faith must overcome. Her child was dead, this child who was the fulfillment of the promise of God through the man of God. Yet now that young boy, that very symbol of the love and power of God was gone, taken from her suddenly and completely.

The crisis she faced was how to believe God in her heart when her eyes showed her the reality that God had failed.

The Great Battle

Throughout or lives, we will face similar challenges. Social media is filled with questions of how and why and who do we blame. For many the question is why would God allow this. In the midst of such conflicts and challenges, we, as Christians, turn to our faith in God but you must understand that faith is only faith when it is tested by crises.

Faith is a shield, Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:16  … taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 

If faith is a shield, then we must understand it was meant for battle. It requires no faith to stand in time of peace. "Faith is not needed until we are under attack.”

The battles for faith that you and I will face, are those in which everything in the world around us tells us, "God is wrong, God is a liar, God is not true."

The facts cannot be denied, the reality of what we face is as obvious as the lifeless body of a child held in a mother’s lap.

Gladys Aylward, was a missionary to China before WWII
When the Japanese invaded Yangcheng, in 1938 she was forced to flee their missionary compound, but she could not leave her adopted Chinese children, orphans and the refugees who had gathered there for safety. The rest of the missionaries had already left while Gladys volunteered to stay. Soon she was cut off from the only safe route of escape. With only one helper, and later wounded, she led more than a hundred orphans over the mountains to safety.

On one time during Gladys's harrowing journey out of war-torn Yangcheng ... she grappled with despair as never before. After passing a sleepless night, she faced the next morning with no hope of reaching safety. A 13-year-old girl with her reminded Gladys of their much-loved story of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.

“But I am not Moses,” Gladys cried in desperation. “Of course you aren't, the young girl said, but Jehovah is still God!”

That is what the Shunamite women remembered and it is what we must remember.
Transition: So, when we are left with nothing to stand on but our faith in Jehovah, will our faith also stand?

The Cry of Faith 2 Kings 4:22-26

And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again.  And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well. Then she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee. So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel. And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, [yonder is] that Shunammite: Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well.

It shall be well

In spite of the undeniable loss, the inescapable reality of death, and the loss of her son she cries out, time and time again. “It shall be well.” Just one word in the Hebrew: Shalom, peace.
This was not just a by word so she wouldn't have to answer questions or exchange greetings, it was not just some routine repeated phrase. This I believe was much more, it was her declaration of faith in God and in God's Word given through Elisha.
Her promised child was dead, but she knew, she believed, she had faith that still somehow, "It shall be well."

Shall It Be Well?

Do we dare to believe even when faced with the fact that God is wrong? Actually, this is faith. This is the battle each of must face. Will we also be able to say, "It shall be well" when everything around says it is not well and may never be again.

Can we say even when we are sinking in a sea of doubts and fear, “Oh Lord as long as I hold this hand up, reaching out to you, It shall be well?"

Will I overcome the facts of this sinful, sick, hurtful world with faith in God’s Word, God’s promises and God’s love?

When my health is failing, Can I say to those that ask, "It shall be well?" When my finances and savings are gone, Can I still say "It shall be well?"

When trusted ones have betrayed me. When I've been lost my job, when my marriage my marriage has failed, when loved ones have are taken away in death, when my church is struggling, will I still believe and say, “I don’t know when or how but Lord, I know it shall be well?”

At times like these I’m reminded of the father in Mark 9:23 who came to Jesus for his son.
Illustration: The Father of the demon possessed son comes to Jesus and his disciples in Mark 9:23-24
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Lord, I believe but help my unbelief.

Transition: In order for us to have faith that overcomes, the kind of faith this woman had, we must understand what that faith is built upon.

The Core of Faith 2 Kings 4:27-37

And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the LORD hath hid it from me, and hath not told me. Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me? Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child. And the mother of the child said, As the LORD liveth, and [as] thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he arose, and followed her. And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked. And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, [and] laid upon his bed.   He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD.  And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son. Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.

The Basis of Their Faith

Notice the persistence and determination of those with faith.
Gehizi tries and fails, Elisha prays, Elisha tries and fails, Elisha works, Elisha rests, Elisha tries again and finally, finally he succeeds.

Did you also notice that not once in this entire event, did God tell Elisha what would happen.  His faith was not based upon a new unknown revelation but upon God’s already given promise to the Shunamite woman. It was also based on his knowledge of who God is, the very character of God. That was the core of his faith and that faith would not accept the death of a child after God had given His word.

The Bedrock of Real Faith

Please listen, many people are failing as Christians because they think that faith is something it is not.
Faith is not willpower. It does not grow strong simply because you wish it or try and force it.
Faith is not some kind of ESP, or mental visualization. It doesn’t make things happen out of thin air or simply use your imagination to bring things into existence.
Faith that overcomes fact is not even a simple belief in God, a general, generic kind of “Sure I believe God can do anything.”

What is faith then? Faith is the direct, active belief in God’s character, God’s Love, God’s power and especially God’s Word. Let me show you what scripture says.

First lets look at God's Character

He is the author of all that is good James 1:16-17 Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Faithful in all his promises Hebrews 11:66 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.
That is the kind of faith that overcomes the facts of a world filled with loss and death, pain and suffering. God is not the author of those things He has defeated those things.

Next we must believe in God's Love 

The definition of God 1 John 4:16-19 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.  Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Love, not dread, is what I will feel when I of God my heavenly father. A love proved in His son Jesus Christ. That’s the kind of love that overcomes the fact of my sinfulness and my hopelessness. God’s love overcame that when he saved me by His grace offered in the death of Jesus my savior. Never doubt the love of God.

We must also believe in God's Power

His power will overcome the crises that we must face in this sinful, sick world.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

This is faith that overcomes the facts of a world that sometimes doesn’t make sense, a world that seems to be out of control and spinning downward to hell. If we have faith then we believe that God’s is still in control. God still rules and God still reigns in the affairs of man and the events of this world.
Finally we must understand and believe in God's Word

Faith is based on the revealed word of God. This is how I know what I am supposed to have faith about and have faith in. It is not in what I think or believe or hope, it is about what God has said, revealed and promised in this Book, the Holy Bible, the Word of God

Psalms 119:80 Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.,

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

When I know what God has said to me, what he has promised me, what He has commanded me, as a New Covenant believer, then my faith will overcome disappointment, depression and despair. I have heard God speak how can I be afraid.

Illustration: Job

Job in the midst of his suffering and the doubts of his family and friends, confronted with the facts of a life turned into nothing but pain, calls out in Job 13:15  “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: …16  He also shall be my salvation”


What is your cry today?  A cry of faith or of despair?  Are you calling out, "Oh, Lord, why?"  or "Oh, Lord. It shall be well."

Can you believe it here at Calvary Baptist Church?  Can you see a church with the pews filled once again? Can you see lives being touched, families being strengthened, missionaries being sent, people being changed by the power of God?

Can you say “It shall be well” for your family?  Even when faced with the impossibilities of modern life, the dangers, the drugs, the finances, the task of just staying together.  Will you still say, "It shall be well."

Can you say it in your life?  Can you look at your own life of those things in the past and the prospects for the future, your ability to make it day by day.  Can you say, "It shall be well?"

Can you believe it in your soul?  Can you look at your heart, at the part of you only you and God can see and can you say, "It shall be well?"  You can if you know God, If you know his word and especially if you know his love.  If you've claimed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then, It is shall be well.

"It Is Well With My Soul" Music of the Faith By Charles W. Colson

Millions of people have found comfort in the great gospel hymn "It Is Well with My Soul" since it was written more than a century ago. But few people know the tragic story behind the composition of the hymn--a story of a soul finding peace in God even in the midst of grief and loss.
We pick up the story in 1871, the year of the great Chicago fire. One man who was particularly hard hit by the fire was a Christian named Horatio Spafford, who had invested heavily in real estate along Lake Michigan. The great fire wiped out Spafford's holdings.

This was not the first disaster to strike Spafford and his wife. Only a short time earlier they had suffered the loss of their son. Yet, even worse was to come.

Two years later, Spafford decided to take his wife and four daughters to Europe on vacation, where Spafford planned to assist his friend, evangelist Dwight Moody, to run an evangelistic campaign in Great Britain. But last minute business kept Spafford home in Chicago.  He sent his wife and children ahead on the ocean liner S.S. Ville du Havre.

And then, tragedy struck. Halfway across the Atlantic, an English vessel rammed the Ville du Havre and cut her in two. In the chaos that followed, Mrs. Spafford made it to a lifeboat but her daughters were swept out of her hands and lost.

The rescued survivors were taken to Wales. From there Mrs. Spafford cabled the terrible news to her husband, who was awaiting news of his family's fare. The cable consisted of just two words: "Saved alone."

Spafford immediately boarded the next ship and set off for Wales to be with his wife.
As his ship approached the mid-Atlantic, he looked out over the billowing waves that had taken the lives of his beloved daughters. Inspired by the sight, Spafford wrote the words of his now famous hymn:

Song  "It is well."
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll.
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul

My sin O the bliss of this glorious thought My sin, not in par, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more; Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord O my soul!

Chorus It is well, with my soul, It is well, it is well with my soul

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