Monday, November 27, 2023

Thanksgiving Living: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-23

 


Thanksgiving Living

1 Thessalonians 5:16-23

This Thursday is the time we celebrate Thanksgiving. A time to gather with family and friends in thankfulness to God for His blessing in our life. A time to share food, family stories, blessing snd yes, of course Turkey jokes. It is my solemn pledge to you as your pastor to share these classic turkey jokes with you and to add at least 2 every year.

Turkey Jokes

What do you get when you cross a turkey With a centipede? A thanksgiving with no arguments over who gets the drumstick.

What do you get when you cross a turkey with an ostrich? A turkey that sticks its head in the mashed potatoes.

What do you get when you cross a turkey with a bell, a banjo and an electric eel? A turkey that rings its own neck, plucks its own feathers And then cooks itself.

What do you get when you cross a turkey with a chameleon? A turkey that changes itself

when you get tired of leftovers.

What do you get when you cross a turkey with a ghost? A poultrygeist!

What do You get when you cross a turkey with a member of congress? Another stupid turkey.

What do you get when you cross a turkey with ballroom dancing? The turkey trot

What do you get when you cross a turkey with a large drinking glass? A goblet.

What do you get when you cross a turkey with desert? Peach gobbler.

What do you get when you cross a turkey with a baseball batter? A foul ball.

What do you get when you cross a turkey with a motion picture? A movie with a R rating for foul language.

What do you get when you cross a turkey with a mathematician? Turkey pot pi.

And finally, what do you Get when you cross a turkey with a Baptist preacher? Dangerous inbreeding.

The 1st epistle of Paul, 1st Thessalonians.

The church at Thessalonica was started during Paul’s second missionary journey recorded in Acts 17. After the imprisonment and miracle with the jail and jailer, , Paul and his missions team traveled south and then west along the great Roman highway in this region to the Macedonian capital and commercial center, Thessalonica. Here they started the second church in Europe and were so successful they were driven from the city after a major riot. Paul fled down to Athens then sent Timothy back to encourage and strengthen the young church. Later, Timothy rejoined Paul at Corinth with a good report of the church. Paul wrote the epistle to the church in 50 AD, to encourage them more and to give guidelines how to live their new Christian life.

In the closing verses of the practical section of the book of 1st Thessalonians, Paul gives a very quick, rapid description of actions that should mark the life of a child of God.

If a modern preacher was writing this, we might expect statements like tithe, go witness or attend church every time the doors are open, but Paul knows that the true Christian life is from the heart and so he gives commands from his heart. In quick, rapid fire statements Paul drives home his final exhortations on thanksgiving living. We are going to just look at three.

Live Joyfully – 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Rejoice evermore.

First Act of Thanksgiving Living

Rejoice evermore means that my joy should be without limit. It cannot be defined by my circumstances, it cannot be stopped by my problems, it cannot be overcome by this world and its adversity.

This is the Joy of the Lord. It is not a pseudo-emotion I prop in front of my very real sorrows in order to keep up a good face. Joy is the undeniable reality of my relationship with God. I may not always be stress free in the circumstances of life I find myself in, but I can always know joy in Jesus, even in the worst circumstances of life.

Joy is a gift from the Lord, that flows with and from the gift of salvation.

Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane in John 17:13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

Paul spoke of the fruit of the spirit, Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Way back in the book of Nehemiah when the wall of Jerusalem was finished, Ezra and Nehemiah called for a day of thanksgiving and celebration and they told the people in Nehemiah 8:9-10 “this day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

When we are told to “rejoice evermore” it is not a demand for pretense, ther is no place for the fa├žade of Christian perfection we sometimes hold up as mask before the world.

This is not a command to be something you are not, or feel something that is not real. It is an exhortation, a reminder to let the Lord’s gift of joy show through. We are to uncover the wonderful, undeniable strength of God's joy in us and let it shine, like a beacon on a dark night.

What Jesus said about our light, could be also said about our joy and it would accomplish the same purpose, Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

100-year-old celebrating birthday

Passing by a table in a local restaurant, I saw a man I knew that was 99 years old and would be 100 in just a week. The restaurant had given him a small birthday cake, complete with candles and a fancy birthday hat. After they sang happy 100th birthday to him. I stopped and said to him, "Well, it seems you're out celebrating a little early, aren't you?" He looked at me and asserted, "You know, at my age, son, every day is a celebration!" - Dan Soman, Livingston, WI. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."

And that is what we as Christians should say, “You know for me as a child of God, everyday is a celebration, every day is a joy.”

Here’s a little song I wrote, you might like to sing it note for note. Don’t worry, be happy.  

Paul would agree, rejoice evermore he told the church at Thessalonica, then in this quick one after the other encouragement he tells them in vs 17 to…

Live Prayerfully - 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray without ceasing.

Second Act of Thanksgiving Living

Paul is telling the church, that they should always have an attitude of constant  prayer and a heart of instantaneous prayer. That communing with God should be uppermost in their minds even if couldn’t always be on their lips.

Pray without ceasing means I live my life in a constant attitude of prayer.

My pastor friend David Stone said, “ (Prayer) should be the first thing we do in the morning, the last thing we do at night, and the spirit in which we live throughout the day.” – David Stone

This is much more about the way I approach life than it is about the specific actions of my life.

From the Gospels to the Epistles the command to pray is often accompanied by this qualification of always.

Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Luke 21:36  Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Romans 12:12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.

Ephesians 6:18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

We pray because we have the full assurance of God’s word that it is effective. James the brother of Jesus wrote in his epistle, James 5:16 “…the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

We are to pray like a soldier fighting a battle, never surrendering but praying until the victory. We are to pray like a watchman guarding the precious treasures of our heart, our family or our church. Pray like a gunfighter, quick to draw prayer, your weapon of choice. Pray like a faithful steward, committed and loyal to your work for the master in faithfully praying..

We are called to an attitude of prayerfulness, of a life shaped and formed by prayer, of being able to go to God at all times, of living our life as though God was always walking beside us and we keep a running conversation with Him about everything. Pray without ceasing mean you understand your life, your family, your church, your job everything that is a part of you is affected by the power of prayer.

In the movie Shadowlands, C S Lewis is with his friends when he gets news that his wife’s cancer has gone into remission. As he gets his coat to leave one of the friends, he is with says, “Thank God he has heard your prayers.” Lewis portrayed by the Anthony Hopkins looks puzzled and then replies, “That is not why I pray. I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It does not change God, it changes me.”

The prayer that is an aspect of our Thanksgiving Living is not the running of prayer beads through my fingers or tying prayer clothes to a tree so as the wind blows it carries my prayers to Buddah. Prayer is life to us as the children of God. A life I live in a close, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, my Lord. It permeates my life and maintains an always open attitude of communication, conversation and contact with God. Pray without ceasing.

The next attitude of Christian living that Paul give is thankfulness.

Live Thankfully - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Third Act of Thanksgiving Living

Thankfulness reflects the attitude of our hearts, but it cannot fully be expressed  or seen without an outward action. My joy may be quiet and hidden and often is seen by nothing more startling than a secret smile. My prayer can be uttered from my heart and none hear but my Lord. Thanksgiving, however, cannot be silent or hidden and still truly be thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is seen by the way in our acts of worship and our acts toward others; it is heard in the words that come from my lips and it is seen by what, how and when I give thanks. You can't hide thanksgiving, nor can you hide the unthankfulness that often replaces it.

Paul began his epistle to the church at Thessalonica by telling them in 1 Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.

Now Paul ends the epistle and tells them to give thanks in everything, every situation no matter how dire, every condition no matter how hopeless, every circumstance no matter how uncertain. In everything, everything give thanks.

Just as the exhortation to constant prayer is found throughout the scriptures so is the exhortation to the giving of thanks to God.

In the Old Testament one of the offerings you brought to the Tabernacle or Temple as a part of the Peace offering was a Thanksgiving offering, a visible act of worship presented to the Lord. Leviticus 22:29-30 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will. On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am the LORD.

Psalms 107:22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and declare his works with rejoicing.

Coming into the Temple grounds was to be accompanied with thanksgiving. Psalms 100:4-5 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

For the Christian, whose life and body is now the temple of the Lord, our thanksgiving, like our prayers are to be a constant and consistent attitude of our life.

Peter in his epistle says, in 1 Peter 2:5 “Ye also, as lively (living) stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Giving thanks is one of our most vital spiritual sacrifices, an action I do for the Lord, because of what the Lord has done for me.

Thanksgiving is still seen in the throne room of heaven by those who were killed for the Lord’s name. As the world tilts on the edge of the apocalypse and God’s people are being systematically hunted down and murdered, heaven is filled with this sound in Revelation 7:9-14 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Slain for the lamb, their robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb and heaven gives thanks. That is the epitome of what Paul is telling the very young church, in everything give thanks this is the will of God in Jesus Christ for you.

Pastor Martin Rinkert

In 1636 during the Thirty Years War--one of the worst wars in the history of mankind in terms of the sheer number of deaths, epidemics, the economic results--there was a godly pastor whose name was Martin Rinkert. In a single year, this pastor buried 5,000 people in his parish--about fifteen a day. He lived with the worst that life could do.

But if you look in your hymnal, you'll find that in the middle of that time, he wrote a table grace for his children, our thanksgiving hymn:

"Now thank we all our God
   With hearts and hands and voices,
   Who wondrous things has done,
   In whom his world rejoices."

   If I'd spent the year holding 5,000 funerals of the people I served, could I write for my children a song of thanksgiving? It's an unusual thing that in history many who have the least to thank God about thank him the most. - Joel Gregory, "The Unlikely Thanker," Preaching Today, Tape No. 110.

Conclusion

Thanksgiving living is rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing and giving thanks in everything. There it is the will of God for you.

Thanksgiving living requires that you uncover the gift of joy that God has given us. Thanksgiving living means prayer is your life, not just a ritual. Finally, is it knowing God's will for us is to give thanks in everything. Right in the middle of the problems the hurts and the sorrow, express it, show it and let others experience it through you. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

When Faith Stands Alone Text: 2 Kings 4:18-37

 

When Faith Stands Alone
Text: 2 Kings 4:18-37


Introduction: Boudreaux and His brother Lafayette

The gators had gotten so bad in Louisiana that the state was paying a bounty of $100 dollar for each gator that was shot and you could even keep the skin for some boots and the meat for a big pot of  alligator jambalaya. Two Cajun brothers, Boudreaux and Lafayette decide to go gator hunting in the Atchafalaya swamp. They paddle around in their little boat for days and days but they can’t spot a single gator. Finally, one day they were out in the swamp so late that they decide to pull up the their little pirogue on an dry island and sleep till morning.

 

The build a fire and fall fast asleep. In the middle of the night, Lafayatte gets up to put more wood on the fire and as the flames kick up he looks out into the night and all around the camp are hundreds of alligators. He can see their eyes glowing and their teeth flashing as they creep toward the brothers.

 

Lafayette wakes up his brother. “Boudreaux, Boudreaux, man you better wake yo self up now!”

Boudreaux says, “What is you goin on about, Lafayette? We been up all day and I is tired!” 

Lafayette says, “Boudreaux, you got to open up yo eyes and look around. We is goin to be rich!”

 

I really like that joke, because it takes something that could be very bad and turns it around into something, that at least in Layfette’s mind, is going to be real good.

The Crises 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.

 

 Faith Versus Fact

 

Shunem: a little village in the tribe of Issachar, to the north of Jezreel and south of Mount Gilboa. South of Nazareth in the North and Samaria in the center of Israel. Shunem was about twenty miles northwest of Abel-meholah, Elisha’s hometown, and twenty-five miles or so beyond Shunem was Mount Carmel. The village of Shunem was the halfway point whenever Elisha went to Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel was special to Elijah because his mentor Elijah’s had his greatest victory of the prophets of Baal and Asherah there.

 

Of the all the miracles done by the prophet Elisha, these two miracle are the most detailed, 37 verses of 2 Kings 4 deal with the Shunamite woman and her son. The later, Elisha once again intervenes in their life chapter 8. There the woman is a widow raising her miracle child and Elizha warns her of a coming 7-year famine. The story of the woman, we only know as this Shunamite, is an amazing and touching story of faith, love, and God’s providence for those who serve Him and for those who provide for His servants.


With the death of her child, there was a crisis of faith. Her faith must overcome the facts that her child was dead. Her little boy, the proof of God’s love and power, was gone.

 

The crisis of faith was how to believe God in her heart, when with her eyes, she could see that God had failed her.

 

Faith Seen In Crisis

 

We must understand that faith is given us by God for those times when we are in crisis.

Isn’t this what Paul meant when he told us that faith is a shield, in Ephesians 6 :16  … taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

If it 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 seen until we are under attack.”

 

 Illustration: Faith In The Storm

 

Do you remember when Peter walked upon the water to go to Jesus? Matthew 14:26-31 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Without the wind and the waves Peter would never have needed to get out of the boat. Without the storm threatening to sink them all, Jesus would not have needed to come to them in their peril. Only when the storm threatened to destroy them did faith become the most important thing they possessed.

 

Transition

 

The truth is that there will always be crises in our life and storms in our path. The crises that you and I will face, the times when we will need faith as we have never needed it before, are those in which everything around us clearly tells us, "The promises of God were wrong. The power of God isn’t real. And the peace of God does not exist.” 

 

The facts of our crisis, our catastrophe, our calamity cannot be denied, the reality of what we are facing is as obvious as the lifeless body of that child.

 

So, when faith stands alone, will our faith 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 today? 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.

 

Her cry, “It shall be well.”

 

In spite of her undeniable loss, the harsh reality of death, and the loss of her son, when Gehazi asks, “Is all well?” She replies, “It shall be well.” This is just one word in the Hebrew, the word, shalom, peace.

 

I don’t believe in this case that Shalom was just used as a word of greeting just to get past Gehazi. This was not just an unthinking spoken word. No, for when asked by Gehazi is all “shalom, it all peace for you and your family?” She replied, It shall be peace. This was her statement of her faith in God and in God's word through Elisha. “It shall be well!”

 

Her promised child was dead, but she believed, she had faith that despite the terrible loss and the terrible pain she was feeling, she could truthfully say, "It shall be well!"

 

Hear Our Battle Cry

 

Will we dare to believe God even when faced with the facts that tell us, God is wrong? Actually, Isn’t that what faith does? It dares to believe when it should be impossible to believe. This is the battle of faith we all must face.

 

Will we also be able to truly say, "It shall be well" when everything around says it is not well and may never be again.

 

Will we raise our battle cry of faith, even when sinking in a sea of doubt and fear? Will I overcome the facts of this sinful, 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 bank account is empty, can I still say "It shall be well?" When trusted ones have betrayed me. When I've been fired from my job, When my marriage is failing, when my marriage has failed. When loved ones are taken away in death. When my church is struggling, when even God’s people aren’t faithful.

 

Will I still believe and say, “I don’t know when or how but I know, it shall be well.”

Faith is not denying or ignoring our doubts and fears. Faith is admitting the doubts and fears but still having faith in the Lord.

 

Aren’t you glad that John the apostle wrote to his “little children” and told them in 1 John 3:19-21 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

 

God is greater than our doubting, fearful hearts. He is greater than the facts that seem to contradict His word. It is not about my inability it is about his ability.

 

Illustration: Help thou my unbelief

 

The Father of the demon possessed son comes to Jesus and his disciples in Mark 9, just as Jesus descends from the Mount of Transfiguration. The man asks for Jesus to show compassion to his son, who has never known a life free from this evil spirit.

 

Mark 9:23-24 -- Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

 

Then, the Bible says, Jesus rebuked the foul spirit and it left the man’s son never to return. Notice carefully, He rebuked the demon, but He did not rebuke the man for his confession of faith mingled with fear.

 

“Lord, I believe; please help me overcome my doubts, fears and unfaithfulness.” Help me to always be able to say, “It shall be well!”

 

Transition

 

In order for us to have faith that overcomes the crises, faith that looks past the facts, faith that overcomes even our own doubts, we must fully understand what that faith is, what it is built upon.

The Core of Faith - 2 Kings 4:27-30

27 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. 28 Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me? 29 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. 30 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. 

 

Faith’s Foundation

 

Let’s look at how faith works in this mother, in Gehazi and especially in Elisha.

 

The mother’s faith is in the promise of the word of God. She goes to where she had placed her faith, in the promise of the man of God, who spoke the word of God. She does not know the outcome of this crisis, but she knows what her faith was based upon.

 

Gehazi’s faith is in obedience to the command of Elisha. When Gehazi acts it is because Elisha is his master and gives him a command. Elisha tells him, “Gird up thy loins and take my staff.” And his faith is seen as he acts. He girds up his loins, that means he gathered up the ends of his long robe, tied them around his upper thighs so they will not trip him and he takes off. I believe he runs all the way back, possibly a distance of 7 miles or more. He runs without saying a word to anyone and enters the prophet’s chamber where the child of promise was laying lifeless on the bed of the prophet, where the woman had place her son and her faith. He places the staff on the face of the child as Elisha had commanded but nothing happens. He then runs back and meets Elisha and the mother with this seemingly hopeless report, “The child is not awaked.”

 

It was going to take much more than a quick touch to restore this life. 

Then we see Elisha’s faith at work when we pick up the story in 2 Kings 4:32-34 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. 33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. 34 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.

 

Elisha, this mighty prophet of God, goes in shuts the door and the first thing he does is …pray. He prays, because just like the child’s mother, he doesn’t know what is going to happen. Elisha who once made an iron axe head float like balsam wood, who once turned a pot of poison into a wholesome stew. Elisha, who multiplied a small meal so that it fed hundreds, who was able to see the invisible army of the Lord and to blind the seeing army of Syria. Elisha who told Naaman to wash away his leprosy in the muddy Jordan river. This great man of God was not told by God why this promised child had died or what would ultimately happen.

 

And so he did what all children of God do when they are confronted with the casualties and catastrophes of this sinful world, he got alone with God and he prayed. When he finished praying, he stretched his body upon the body of the dead child staying there so long that the flesh of the child began to warm. This was something that Elijah, his master, had done when the child of the widow of Zarephath had died and now Elisha does it again but even more fervently. This was not some form of resuscitation but was an extension of the prayer. Both prophets prayed with their words, prayed with their hearts and then, they also prayed with all of their physical being, as if willing life back into the empty body by holding the child close. 

 

I wonder if James was thinking of Elisha praying in that upper room when he wrote, James 5:16 … The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

 

The story finishes in 1 Kings 4:35... 35 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. 36 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. 37 Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out..

 

Even after praying, even after warming the child’s flesh with his own body, the child still lay lifeless upon the bed. Not once did God tell Elisha anything. In this case faith was not based upon special revelation but upon the promise already given to the Shunamite woman. The reason Elisha kept trying and would not give up was because his faith was based upon his knowledge of the character of God. He knew the his God and he knew that his God did not lie or play games with people’s pain. Who God was, formed the core of his faith. And that faith would not accept the fact of a child taken after God had given His word.

 

Foundational Faith

 

Please listen, many people are failing as Christians because they really don’t understand what faith is. They don’t know its foundation and therefore it can’t be built up in their lives. 

 

Faith is not our willpower. It does not grow strong simply because you wish it or try to force it.

Faith is not some kind of supernatural element or visualization. It doesn’t make things happen out of thin air or simply use your desires to bring something out of nothing. Though there are many sad heretics who teach such lies.

Nor is faith a simple generic, belief in God. A kind of “I believe God can do anything.”

 

What is faith then? Here is what the Bible teaches. Faith is a direct, active belief in God’s character, God’s love, God’s power and specifically God’s Word. Let me show you what the Bible tells us of our God.

 

God’s Character, who He is. The Bible says that God is the author and giver of all that is good.

God 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.

God, the Bible tells us is 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.

 

God reveals himself to us in His word and His word says, He is love.

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...

 

God Is unfailing in His Power and Providence. We must believe in God's Power and His plans, a power that will overcome the crisis we must walk through and providence that will supply our every need.

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 just doesn’t make sense, a world that seems to be out of control and rapidly spinning downward into hell. But if we have this faith, then we know and believe that God’s is still in control. We know and believe that God will always rule and reigns in the affairs of all men.

 

Finally, true, “It Shall Be Well” faith, is built upon God's Word.


And by God’s word I mean this written, in your hand, before your eyes, hidden in your heart, Holy Bible.

 

Once I heard a professor and Pastor preaching about faith and he mentioned a mound of asphalt that was on the back side of the church parking lot. And used it as an example. “If I had faith I could say to that mound of asphalt, be gone.” He went on, “If we can have faith to move mountains, why don't we see more land leveling?” Well I can tell you why, because nowhere in this book are we told to move a mound of asphalt in the parking lot much less Mt Everest.

 

True faith is based on the revealed word of God. This is the way, the only way I can know what I am to believe in and act in faith upon.

 

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. It’s true for my saving faith, and its true for my walking faith. That is what it says in …

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

 

When I know, what the Lord has said to me, as a New Testament, new covenant child of God, then my faith can face and overcome dangers, disappointments, depressions, degradations, and the despair of death.

 

Illustration: Job

Job, because He knew his Lord, had this kind of faith, in the depths of despair, confronted with the doubts of his family, his friends and even himself, still sounds the cry of faith in Job 13:15  “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: …16  He also shall be my salvation”

Conclusion:

What is your cry today? 

Is it a cry of faith or of despair?  Are you calling out, "Oh, Lord, why?" or "Oh, Lord. It shall be well."

Can you stand in that faith here at Calvary Baptist Church? Can you see a church with people filling the pews again? Can you see lives being touched, families being strengthened, missionaries being sent, people being changed by the power of God?

 

Can you believe “It shall be well” for your family?  Even when faced with the sinful facts of this immoral time we live in? When facing the dangers, the drugs, the finances, the job of just staying together.  Can you still say, "It shall be well."

 

Can you say it when looking at your life? Can you look at the things in the past and the prospects for the future and say, "It shall be well?"

 

Do you believe it for your soul? Can you look at the part of you, that only you and God can see and say, “No matter what happens in this world, today or tomorrow, or for eternity, I know, "It shall be well!" 

 

If you know God, If you’ve read His word and if you’ve experienced His love through Jesus Christ, His son and your Savior, then you will know that even when faith stands alone, it stands strong.