Saturday, April 16, 2011

That's What Faith Must Be

Jump over to YouVersion for the version with the bible verses.

That's What Faith Must Be
Message #6 of "John: A Story to Believe" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg; Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash.; my notes from the 9 and 10:45 am on Sunday, April 10, 2011. I pray that my notes will be helpful for you.

--- The Background for Belief (John 4:43-46) ---

The Persons Involved

* Jesus - escaping the crowds who see him as a religious sideshow, a guy who does miracles
* A royal official - probably wealthy, a member of the court of Herod - his son's death is probably imminent and he's travelled 20 miles, desperate, begging from help anywhere he can get it
* A sick (dying) boy

The Needs Involved

* Healing of the boy's body
* Forming of the father's faith
--- The Formation of Faith (John 4:46-54) ---

"This was the second miraculous sign" - the first was turning the water into wine

1. An incredible NEED gets OUR ATTENTION.
(God gets OUR ATTENTION through an INCREDIBLE NEED!) (v. 46-47)
God had an appointment with that man that he didn't even know about. The pastor pointed this especially at men. God grabs our attention through our families, our children, our wives, or finances, our work. He might try simpler methods first, but often needs to move on to the 2x4. Repeatedly, the direction to men, you couldn't miss it.

2. Jesus says "Faith isn't about focusing on THE MIRACLE WE (think we) WANT
but on the MASTER WE NEED." (v. 48)

Jesus' first words "Unless you (your kind) see signs and wonders, you don't believe." He's pointing out that the man hasn't come to God for God, but for himself. He was testing the man. Faith isn't about me receiving a miracle that I want, but about focusing on God and believing that God is God. period. Jesus doesn't coddle this man. Get this straight. Faith is different than what you think. And not just this man, but all who were nearby at the time. If you only come to me because of the miracle you want, then go elsewhere, you've come to the wrong place. You need a master, not a miracle. How does the man reply?

3. We see only ONE WAY GOD could intervene. (v. 49)

The man doesn't argue, doesn't try to justify himself, he just appeals to Jesus - he sees the one way for Jesus to fix it - to come with him. He just has one thing in mind - if he can get Jesus to come with him, he can save the boy. God must fix it this way. Jesus, my x is sick - I need you to fix it this way. If we've got it all figured out, then maybe we should be God. Jesus refuses to go along with the official's expectations. When Jesus refuses to do what we expect, we become indignant or disappointed. How dare you not do it the way my faith demands it? How can you not answer my need my way? That's not fair. That's not right.

4, Jesus says, "Trust me." (v. 50)

Jesus refused to go with the man, but he didn't refuse to help. He said, "Look, your son will be well." Jesus spoke and it was. Jesus may not always heal, but it will always be to his glory. No distance, no situation that's too big for God. Jesus expected the man to trust him. We can't demand that Jesus act as we expect. We can demand that Jesus show himself to be God. This man did not argue, he did just trust.

5. In time, Jesus CONFIRMS OUR TRUST. (v. 51-53)

Thomas demanded proof. Blessed are those who trust without proof. (John 20:29) After the crisis is done, then we can often see the fingerprints of God all over the situation, even when we felt alone or nothing was happening. Do we need miracles to believe?

6. Our faith WILL SPREAD. (v. 53)

Not merely that Jesus could perform miracles, but that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Jesus spoke and it was.

Again, the pastor is exhorting the men of the church. We set the tone for our families. If we are mushy, our family will not have a strong faith. We will lead our wives, our sons, our daughters. Time to step up. You wife will be a great encourager if you step up. But if you're not doing your part, your wife will, but then she won't be encouraging you, and the disconnect will be obvious to your family. (If this sounds sexist, then I've taken bad notes.)

--- Faith's Steps ---

CRISES - most people's faith in God starts at a point of desperation. As long as things are good, people wonder why they need God. God allows the crises to occur to drive us to seek God because we've reached a point that there's pressure or need that we can't solve on our own. We finally swallow our pride and seek help.
--> They often lead to the GREATEST LESSONS IN LIFE. (Do we still have questions? Yes)

----> CONFIDENCE - this man simply chose to believe in Jesus. The official did not race back, he took Jesus at his word. (24 hours after Jesus dismissed him at around 1 pm, the man had still not returned home and it took his servants that long to reach him.)
------> It's in JESUS, not in the MIRACLE. Jesus performed the miracle without a theatrical show. Jesus isn't going to jump through our hoops.
(Romans 11:33-36 - Paul's reminding us to not try to control God.)

--------> CONFIRMED faith
----------> We see there are no COINCIDENCES in Jesus.

------------> CONTAGIOUS
--------------> Be GENUINE. Don't claim to know all the answers, to claim "I have no questions, I just trust God and it's all good." Instead, admit your questions. Show God has worked in our lives, but don't think for a minute that He's done. Or that there will not be any more crises.

Not part of the sermon, but I'm struck by a thought... could clinging tightly to God result in fewer crises? I'm not sure, I suspect tha kind of thinking could be dangerous, but there might be something to it anyhow, about the importance of clinging to God. If some crises are allowed to happen as a wake-up a call, a 2x4 to the back of the head, if we are right and tight with God, perhaps we wouldn't need those wake-up calls? We all know people who seem to go throughout life without a crises and those who hit every wave head on, so it's probably a dangerous "life insurance policy" to think that this is entirely true. But I do know that from the crises I have gone through, when I trusted God and kept my focus on Him during them, they were much easier to endure, there was a confidence that there would be an ending, that they would someday be in my rearview mirror. I don't want to be foolish and think I will not have any future crises (this is still a broken world full of sinful prideful selfish people - including me - and my will is not God's), I may have had a mini-one just this past week, but when I cling fiercely to God (the way my children cling to my legs) I know that He will bring me through it.

I have a hope, I have a future, I have a destiny that is yet awaiting me
My God is for me, He's not against me, so tell whom then, whom then shall I fear?
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