Robby Gallaty February 22, 2015
Message, Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor
If you are joining us today as a guest, you have joined us for the second series in our 7-part series through the book of John. I am actually going to take the book of John in 21 sermons. This is the second of the first seven which is looking at Jesus’ miracles or signs. Then I am going to take the next seven which will look at Jesus’ sayings, who He said He was. And then finally, we are going to do something a little different. Maybe you haven’t seen this before and that is, we are going to take the seven witnesses of what people said about Him. The woman at the well, Nicodemus and others. And so I am really excited about this sermon series.
Today we are going to talk about the Faith of a Father. The Faith of a Father. a Now, just to give you a little update on what has happened since we last met last week in the life of Jesus, from John Chapter 2 to John Chapter 4. Jesus’ ministry at this point is in full swing. In fact, he has five guys who are unofficially following Him. Five would-be disciples. Nathanial, Philip, Andrew, Peter and an unnamed disciple in the book of John that we know as John.
Now as we study through the gospel of John, we will realize that John never names himself. He always says, “the other disciple.” These five guys, are you ready for this, will spend time with Jesus for the next 18 months before He officially calls the 12 guys in Luke Chapter 6 to follow Him. I think you, like me, have wrongly believed, as I have for a while, that Jesus began His earthly ministry with 12 guys and then traveled with them for two and a half to three years. That is not correct. In fact, Jesus doesn’t issue a formal, official call to the 12 until 18 months in the ministry. So these guys are just hanging around Jesus. So what are they going to do?
Well, Jesus takes them on various ministry or mission opportunities. In John Chapter 2, He takes them to a wedding ceremony. There Jesus turns the water into wine, which is His first miracle. Then Jesus decides to pack His bags, they take a short trip to Capernaum with His mother and His brothers. Then Jesus decides to make a detour down to the Passover. This is the first Passover and He is celebrating it with these five disciples. He decides to do something radical at the Passover. He makes a whip, He turns over tables because they have turned His Father’s house into a den of thieves. Jesus causes a scene, if you will.
Then He takes the men back on a short tour through the Judean countryside to make a pit stop for their first mission trip in Samaria. They think they are just going through this untouched territory. Jesus is going to a specific well to meet a specific woman. We will talk about her in a couple of months.
He meets the woman at the well. He sends the disciples into town and she believes the Word of God and is radically changed. Then Jesus takes the disciples back up into John Chapter 4 as we study today, to the city of Cana.
Now what is important about the city of Cana, for those who were here last week? That is where He performed His first miracle. Do you think it is a coincidence that Jesus now goes back to Cana to perform His second miracle. I don’t think so.
If you have your Bibles, lets see what Jesus is doing. Turn with me to John Chapter 4. John Chapter 4 and Verse 46. And today, I want to share with you my goal in our time together. And that is, I want to show you the faith of this father in order to strengthen and increase your own faith, so that you will get to the place in your Christian life when you realize there are no accidents in the economy of God. Let me say that again. I want your faith to be increased by watching the faith of this man so that you and I come to the place where we realize nothing happens by chance for a believer in the economy of God. Do you believe that?
Lets see the text. If you are there, John Chapter 4 Verse 46, say “Word.” The Word of the Lord.
“So Jesus came again to Cana in Galilee, where He had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to Him and asked Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ The official said to Him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when his son got better, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.’ The father knew that was the hour when Jesus said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ And he himself believed, and all his household. This was the second sign that Jesus did when He had come from Judea to Galilee.”
I want to break the text down into three segments, three progressions in the account. The first one is this, write it down if you are taking notes. I want you to see the request of a father. I want you to see the request of a father. Now, who is this father? Well, the text says he is an official. It is another word for a nobleman. He was a high ranking official, probably in Herod’s court.
Now I want to submit to you today that I think this man was Jewish. Some people think he is Roman. But I think he is Jewish. And I will tell you why I think he is Jewish, because of how Jesus responds to him. Look at what Jesus says, “You all want to see signs and wonders.” Well, who is Jesus giving an indictment to? What nation wants to see signs and wonders to prove the Messiah? It is the nation of Israel. And so we can deduce from the text, this man is probably a Jewish man working in a Roman Empire.
That word “ruler” or “official” is another word for sovereign. It is another word for King’s man. And basically what this guy is showing us, that neither rank nor riches can heal his son. He has probably expended all of his resources to heal his son, to no avail. And so now he has resorted to coming to Jesus to ask for help.
If you remember many years ago with the Lindberg baby being captured and kidnapped, one newspaper article wrote, “Poor Ol’ Lindy. Tonight, he is worth six million dollars and he would give every cent he has to have his son back.” That is the despair of this father.
In desperation he comes to Jesus and he simply says, “Sir, would you come down to my house? My son is dying.” Now, you have to appreciate the faith of this man. He travels by foot…are you ready for this…15 to 20 miles from the northern part of the Sea of Galilee by Capernaum. He travels by foot to meet with Jesus to give Him this request. Can you sense the desperation in this man’s voice when he gives this request to Jesus? It reminds me of John Bunyan in his own account. He is the author of “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” talking about the time he came to Jesus.
Listen to what he says. He says, “I was driven to such straights that I must of necessity go to Jesus. And if Jesus had met me with a drawn sword in His hand, I would have sooner thrown myself upon the edge of that sword than have gone away from Him, for I knew at that moment, Jesus was my only hope.”
That is where this man is. He has exhausted all of his resources. Now you have to appreciate this man’s faith. Jesus has done only one miracle up to this point. Period. He doesn’t have an official following. The Jerusalem Times Free-Press has not reported on His teaching or His miracles up to this point. And this man stakes his life and his son’s life on Jesus being able to heal his son. The official doesn’t pull rank or position. He doesn’t tell Jesus what to do. He simply gives Him a humble request.
And so that is the request of the father. Let’s see how Jesus responds and secondly, we see in the text the response of Jesus. The man says, “Come with me, Jesus, to my house. My son is about to die.” Notice what Jesus says, “No, you go home. Your son lives.”
Now before we get into what Jesus is saying here, we have to back up into the account of Jesus to see what just took place. So hold your place there and lets go up a couple of verse to Chapter 4 Verse 43.
The text says, “After two days, Jesus departed for Galilee. (For Jesus Himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomes Him, having seen all that He had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.”
Now what in the world did Jesus do at the feast? Hold your place there and go back to John Chapter 2 and lets see. Jesus goes to the Passover. Now why is the Passover so important? The Passover is one of the three pilgrimage festivals where the Jews were required to travel from all over the world to Jerusalem to honor God. And so there are hundreds, thousands if not a million people there in the community of Jerusalem, witnessing what Jesus is about to do. So Jesus walks in and His first Passover with His disciples. What does He do? Look at Verse 15.
“And making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. And He told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make My Father’s house a house of trade.’ And His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for My house will consume Me.’”
So Jesus causes a scene at the temple because He sees these practices going on in His Father’s house. And then He makes a stopover in Samaria. Now He has great success in Samaria because of one thing. He simply meets a woman at the well, speaks the words of life to her and she obeys them. She runs back into town. She tells the whole town, my life has been radically changed because of the word of one Man.
Notice what happens in Chapter 4 Verse 41. “The people said to the woman, it is no longer because of what you said that we believe. For we have heard for ourselves and we know that this indeed is the Savior of the world.”
Now, why do I say that? Because when Jesus comes into Galilee, His hometown, His reception is less than spectacular. In fact, the Jews are looking for a sign which shows that they had superficial faith. Their faith was based on wonders. They wanted to see something. They could have been from Missouri, the Show Me State, right. And Jesus rebukes this mentality when He responds to the man. What does Jesus say? “You all want a sign.” Now don’t miss this. Jesus is not just rebuking this man, although I don’t even think He is rebuking the man. Guess who Jesus is talking to when He speaks to this man? He is talking to the nation.
Do you know how I know that? Because the word “you” in both instances in that line is in the plural. So Jesus says to the man, “You all want a sign. The whole nation wants a sign.” But the man is undeterred from Jesus’ response.
He responds back to Jesus again. He says, “Jesus, why don’t You come with me?” And Jesus says, “I am not going to go with you. You go home.” Now this is odd because this man is a high ranking official. He has servants. They listen to him. They are at his beck and call. Jesus is a penniless traveling iterant rabbi who has nothing. And this man doesn’t pull rank or position against Jesus. He simply listens to Jesus, right? He says, “Hey, why don’t You come home with me?” And Jesus says, “No, how about you go home.” I want you to feel the weight of this. This man travels 15-20 miles by foot to hear five words from Jesus about the healing of his son. And it is those five words that he basically goes back with. He is at a crossroads of faith here. Does he listen to Jesus and go home or, does he ask for a sign?
Now I don’t know about you, but if I was there, I would have probably asked for proof. You have to understand, there is no Facebook, there is no Twitter, there are no cell phones, right? There is no texting. He can’t prove that Jesus’ words have come true. He has to make the 15-20 mile journey. And you have to caught off guard by the faith of this man. He simply hears the Word of Jesus and He obeys immediately. This is a great principle for you. Write it down. Delayed obedience is disobedience to the Lord. Delayed obedience.
When Jesus Christ speaks to you something through His Word, when you sense the Lord leading you to do something, how quick do you respond? That is the thermostat to your sanctification and spiritual growth. How quick, when Jesus speaks, do you act? That is a great way to determine your growth. This man doesn’t hesitate. Jesus, You have healed my son. I am gone.
So we see the response of Jesus because of the request of the father. But finally, we see the realization of the miracle. Because of the man’s faith, he witnesses a miracle. Look at Verse 51. “As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering.” That is actually not the best translation of the word. That word means “living.” In fact, this entire passage is about life.
Notice how many times…this is a good sight study…how many times the word “life” or “live” is there. Your son will live. Your son is living. Your son has lived or is living.
“So he asked the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday around the seventh hour the fever left him.’ The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ And he himself believed, and all his whole household.”
Do you know why I love this passage? Because what we just witnessed was the life cycle of faith in a person. The man initially comes to Jesus with simple faith, just enough faith that he has to put his faith in Christ for help. Then the man obeys Jesus and exercises faithfulness to respond to Jesus. Now watch this, and then the passage ends with saving faith. So he comes with simple faith, and he experiences saving faith, not only him but his entire household.
He goes back home and he says, Hey, listen, when actually did the miracle occur? And they said, oh, yeah, that was actually the seventh hour. And he remember immediately that was when Jesus spoke the words.
Do you know what is interesting about this text? If you compare the second miracle at Cana with the first miracle at Cana, there are many similarities. It is no accident that Jesus goes back to the same town to perform similar miracles.
Let me give you five similarities between the two. The first one is, both miracles…are you ready for this…happen on the third day. John Chapter 2 Verse 1, it says, “On the third day, Jesus went to the wedding.” John Chapter 4 Verse 43, it says, “After two days they went into Galilee, on the (what?) third day.”
The second thing is interesting. When Jesus receives the dilemma from the two participants, He responds in the same way. Mary says, “Hey, Jesus, we have a problem. The wine has run out at the wedding.” Jesus says, “Woman, this is not My problem. Why are you asking Me? What do you want Me to do about it?” That is what He said. He gives a stern rebuke to His mother. When the father comes to Jesus as asks Him to come heal his son, what does Jesus do to him? He rebukes him as well. In both situations Jesus responds with a rebuke.
Here is a third similarity in the text. In both situations, the participants respond in obedience. When Mary is sharply rebuked by Jesus, mildly rebuked by Jesus, she responds to the servants, Do whatever He says. Do you know what she is saying, Listen to Him. Obey Him. When the father is told to go home, your son will live, what does he do? He listens and he obeys.
The next two are pretty amazing. Number 4. In both cases, watch this, it is the Word of God that does the work. In the water and the wine situation, Jesus never comes in contact with the jug or the jugs. He never comes in contact with the jars. He doesn’t pour the water and He doesn’t touch the water to change it. He only SPEAKS and it does the miracle, performs the miracle.
When the father comes to Jesus with his dilemma, Jesus doesn’t even go to the house. He just says, “Your son will live.” And through speaking the Word, it happens.
Here is the final one. Both accounts end with the participants believing in Jesus. In John Chapter 2, the water and the wine, it says the disciples believed. And in this situation, it says the man went home and he believed and his whole household believed as well.
Now I know there are some similarities, but there are also some differences. The first miracle happens at a wedding, which is a time of happiness and joy. The second account happens in the midst of turmoil and struggle. And I think what John is showing us is something pretty amazing; that you and I must exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ through the sorrows of life and the pleasures of life, right? We need to have consistent faith and continuous faith in the Lord Jesus Christ regardless of what happens in our life.
I want you to notice in the text also that Jesus gives no prescription for how He performed the miracle. In fact, there are no lightening bolts, there are no fireworks that go off when the boy is healed or the water turns to wine. There is no thunder in the distance. In fact, if you study these texts, only a short of a small portion of the account has to do with the miracle at all. The majority of the text has to do with the people listening and their response to the miracle. And it shows us that Jesus…are you ready for this?…only performed miracles as a way to increase the faith of those who were in attendance. He used the miracle as a platform for the increasing of one’s faith.
Now this is not the case if you have the stomach, if you take the time to stomach the shenanigans that go on in religious television today. Just turn on your television and you will see some of the shenanigans that actually go on. And one of the things you will realize about these so-called healers or faith workers is that 90% of their program is devoted to healing and miracles and signs and wonders and only a short portion of their program, if it ever gets there, is devoted to the Word of God.
And one of the things we realize through Jesus’ ministry is that Jesus never devoted a lot of times to the wonders, Jesus focused on the Word of God. It was paramount to all things.
You see, the man simply believes Jesus’ word and he responds. And although Jesus responds quickly and immediately, it doesn’t always happen that way. How many times have we prayed for God to move in our lives and we feel like our prayers are just going to the ceiling. Right? You’ve been there before. You feel, God, are You even listening to me? Do You even hear me?
It doesn’t always happen that way, but we do know from the text that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. And one of the things we realize about that is, God doesn’t always respond in our time, but He is always on time. He is never late. Friends, don’t ever discount the providence of God in your life. Don’t even underestimate the kindness of God towards you. Don’t ever minimize the love that God has for you. God may not be working on your time, but He is always on time. And you may not realize the full fruition of that in your lifetime. It may come years after you have passed away.
And so, Robby, how do we apply this text? I understand this man’s faith, but how does that apply to my faith? I am glad you asked. Let me give you three walking points. How do you apply this text to your life?
Here is the first one. Faith is founded upon the Word of God. Faith is founded upon the Word of God. Romans Chapter 10 says “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
Now what is faith? You have talked a lot about faith. Well, I have saved it to the end purposely. Faith is belief in something. It is another word for trust. It is this idea of going all in in something. Absolutely committed to something. As we know as from New Testament believers, our faith is never based on feelings because feelings are fickle. Our faith is based on the facts of the Word of God.
Now when Jewish scholars want to understand the meaning of a word, I am going to give you a quick hermeneutics lesson, which is the study of the Bible, study of how to study the Bible.
When Jewish scholars want to understand the meaning of something, they go back to the first occurrence of that word in the Old Testament and that gives a picture of how the word is used throughout the entire Bible. In exegetical books today, it is called the “rule of first use.” The rule of first use. When the word is used for the first time, it gives a picture of how the word is used throughout the Bible.
Where do you think…pop quiz…I know it is early…pop quiz…where do you think the word “faith” is first used in the Bible? It is going to require you to think. It is not an easy one, I know. Well, you may say, Pastor, it is Abraham, when Abraham expressed faith in God, to leave everything he knew to follow God. Well, you would be right, but that is not mentioned in the Old Testament. In fact, the word “faith” associated with Abraham is in the New Testament when the book of Romans talks about it. So that is not it.
The first use of the word “faith” is in Exodus 17. So if you have your Bibles, turn with me to the Old Testament to Exodus 17. Moses has taken the children of Israel out of the bondage. They have walked through all the plagues. They are now wandering in the desert and they come up against opposition. Verse 11, Exodus 17:11. When you are there, say “Word.”
“Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady…there it is…circle it…underline it…draw it in the margin. Steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.”
That word “steady” there is the Hebrew word “amuna”. Amuna is the word for steady, but it is also the word for faithfulness and it is also the word for steadfastness. It is this idea of being committed, or it is associated with being connected to perseverance. It is this idea of continuing on.
So here is the idea. When you came to Christ, you put faith in Christ, but then from the moment of your salvation to the moment of glorification when you die and you are with Christ, you will exercise faithfulness. That is how Jews thought about faith. It was faithfulness toward the Lord.
Let me give you another instance. Go to Proverbs 12. Let me give you another instance of where this word is used. Proverbs 12:22. Solomon says, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” That is the idea. It is this idea of action.
Now Paul used the same word in Romans Chapter 1 Verse 17 when he was quoting Habakkuk Chapter 2 Verse 5 when he said, “The righteous shall live by faith.” It actually should be faithfulness. It gives is a different feel, right?
When James said, “Faith apart from works is dead,” what he meant was, faithfulness apart from works is dead. Do you know, for the Jewish mind, the opposite of faith is not…write this down…the opposite of faith is not unbelief for the Jews. Are you ready for this? The opposite of faith is disobedience. Big difference.
You see, we study Hebrews 11 and we always say it is the Hall of Faith, the Chapter of Faith. It is a picture of men who were faithful to God. Now what is interesting about that chapter is, those men in that chapter were not known for the things they believed in, right? It doesn’t say Moses believed in salvation by faith alone. And David was a man who believed in eschatology. And Noah was a man who believed in the in times. It doesn’t say that. The chapter is filled with instances of what they did. Moses by faith did this. Noah by faith did this. Abraham by faith did this.
Here is what faith is. Faith is not just believing in spite of the evidence, although it is. Faith is obeying in spite of the consequences. Let me say that again. Faith is not just believing in spite of the evidence, it is obeying God in spite of the consequences that will result from us putting our faith and trust in Him.
So first of all, faith is founded upon the Word of God. Secondly, our faith as Christians should increase over time. You faith should develop over time.
When the father first approaches Jesus, he comes to Jesus with a small measure of faith. Do you know how I know that? Because he has a limited understanding of the scope and significance of Jesus’ power. You see, he believes that in order for Jesus to heal his son, He has to be in close proximity of his son. And we get because he says, “Jesus, would you just come to my house. I know it is a long journey, but just come.” And we can’t fault the guy because there are other people who have the same misunderstanding. Remember, Jairus when he came to Jesus, would you just come home and lay some hands on my child and then they will be healed. Remember Martha and Mary. Jesus waits three days to come back to raise Lazarus from the dead. And what does Martha say right when she meets Jesus? Jesus, if You had just been here, he would have been saved.
You see, they don’t understand that Jesus can heal from a distance and raise the dead from afar. He doesn’t need to be in close proximity of the person. He simply…watch this, church…He simply needs to speak the Words and it is the Word of God that heals the people.
And so the father gets that. He says, “Jesus, would you come?” And Jesus said, “No, I am not listening to you, you listen to Me. Go home, your son lives.”
Now, imagine the day that guy had running back home. I don’t think he walked, I think he ran. And if you have ever had a sick child before, you have been there before, right? You are running home. No text, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram. Hey, here is a picture of your son. He is healed. No, none of that. And I believe if he has never ran a marathon before, he just checked in 21 miles, 20 miles. I just ran my first marathon and my son is healed, right?
So he is running home and if you would have seen him running with joy in his heart, you would have stopped him. And if you would have stopped him that day, you would have said, hey, listen. Why are you so happy? He would have said to you this, “I am happy because my son has been healed. He was at death’s doorstep and he has been healed by Jesus.” And if you would have probed a little further and said, well, how do you know that? You have been in Cana. You live in Capernaum. How do you know that? This is what he would have said. Jesus Christ said so and that is all I need.
Do you know what baffles me today about Christians today? Or baffles me about the world today, is that we have all the testimonies of the apostles, we have all the books of the Bible and yet people still don’t believe. The one’s faith that blows me away is Abraham. Abraham is in the middle of nowhere. God comes to him and says, hey, listen, you are going to be the father of many nations. He literally…watch this…gives him a phrase. You are going to be the father of many nations…and by the way…pack your suitcase, pack your clothes and travel to a land that I am going to tell you when you get there that you have arrived. And he stakes his life on a phrase. And friends, we have people in this world, we have 66 books of the Bible written by 40 people over 2500 years and people still don’t believe!
Think of the faith of the father. He stakes his life on a word. Hey, listen, go home. Your son is going to be healed. Your son is already healed. And it shows us that faith is based on the Word of God.
Hebrews 11 says this, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. It is the conviction of things that are unseen.” That is faith. And in case you missed it, he drops down a little further, look at Verse 13 on the screen. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar.” This is what he is saying. These people were promised something but they never saw the realization of the promise, but they still looked from afar and believed by faith.
Look at Verse 27. “Moses by faith left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, but he endured as seeing Him who is … I love this… invisible.”
So I know what you are thinking, okay, I have some faith. I have a little faith. How do I put my faith in the Lord? Do you know how you extend your faith? Do you know how you have more faith? Do you know how God increases faith in your life? Here is how. You have to exercise faith. It puts us in a precarious situation at times because we don’t like to exercise faith, right? But by exercising faith,…don’t miss this…God increases your faith.
I love what the preacher Alexander McLaren said about this. He said, “the way to increase one’s faith is to exercise it. And the true parent of perfect faith is the experience of the blessing that comes from the crudest, rudest, narrowest, blindest, feeblest faith that a man can exercise. Trust Christ as you can and do not be afraid of inadequate conceptions or of a feeble grasp. Trust Christ as you can and give Him as much as you can and expect Him to help you trust Him even more.”
That reminds us of the little faith we put in Christ the day we got saved. Amen? Do you know what happened the moment you got saved? This is what happened. You put as much faith as you had in as much of Christ as you knew and God saved you. Aren’t you glad for that?
But He doesn’t leave you there. You see, as you continue to walk with Him, He puts you in situations and circumstances to exercise your faith and then He increases your faith. And then He gives you another example. And then He increases your faith. And that is what He does. And I think one of the reasons, one of the ways God increases our faith, which is our final point for today and here it is. The walking point which I think…are you ready for this?…is the crux of the whole message.
Affliction in your life is God’s medicine for your soul. Affliction in your life is God’s medicine for your soul. Regardless of whether you are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, in good health or bad health, trials in your life and my life are inevitable, amen? Inevitable. And it doesn’t matter if you are a young man or a young lady, this man shows us in the text, the son, that it doesn’t guarantee you will ever have a long life. Trials are inevitable in the Christian’s life.
Now, one of the things I was caught this week by is the fact that the son, the son’s illness, was actually a blessing in disguise for the father and his family. Did you catch that? If the son had never been sick, the father wouldn’t have traveled 20 miles to meet Jesus Christ Himself, God Incarnate, in the flesh, request a healing, take that word and obey it, walk back home, experience a miracle and then by the by-product of that is he got saved and his whole household got saved!
Do you know that God will use any means possible to get your attention. And His divine choice instrument for drawing you close to Him…are you ready for this?…is suffering. God always speaks in a whisper through His word, but He speaks with a megaphone through suffering. Why? Because we are all ears. That is the instrument He always applies to our life to get our attention.
It reminds me of Paul in II Corinthians Chapter 12 Verse 7. The NIV says it this way. Paul says, “To keep me from becoming conceited due to the surpassing revelation that was shown to me.” Do you know what he is saying here? He is saying, I saw the third heaven. I was with Christ. But Christ knew that I would be prideful, so there was given to a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord, take it away, take it away, take it away, but the Lord said to me, My faith is made perfect in your weakness, Paul. My power is made perfect in your weakness. Paul says, “Therefore, for Christ’s sake, I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, in my insults, in my persecutions, in my difficulties and my hardships for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Friends, do you know that your relationship with Christ is magnified in the midst of suffering? The way you respond in a manner pleasing to the Lord. And I believe all of us in here could say, Pastor, I have been at the crossroads of a crisis of faith before. If you haven’t, just wait, it is coming. I know I have. And maybe you are in the midst of that now. Maybe you are in a 25 year marriage and you just found out that your spouse has rekindled an old fling on Facebook and the marriage is starting to dissolve.
Maybe you just got news that one of your children has six months to live because of a terminal illness. You are at a crisis of faith right now. Maybe your life savings has dissolved because of corporate greed or fraud. Maybe you have been working at a company your entire adult life and they just let you go because they are downsizing and now you are 60 years old and you don’t have a clue what you are going to do next. You are at a crisis of faith. Maybe you have just found out that three of your family members just got in a bad car accident or a natural disaster and they have died. Or maybe the son and daughter that you raised in this church is now far from God and it weighs heavy upon your heart.
I don’t know where you are, but I know this about the Christian life. Everybody in here has just come out of a crisis of faith or a crossroads or a challenging period of their life. They are currently in a challenging period of their life or they are about to go into a challenging period of their life. And that is how life works.
And I think the faith of this father is comforting to us today. Why? Because it shows us that trials in our life are used by God never to make us bitter, but they are always used to make us better. And God has a purpose for trials. And if you are in the midst of a trial, listen to me, I don’t know why you are going through struggles right now. And you may not ever know this side of eternity, but we do know Romans 8:28 says, “All those who love God and are called according to His purpose, He works ALL things together for good. All things.
Hey, listen, have you ever thought that the present trial you are in has nothing to do with you? You see, the son’s illness really had nothing to do with him. It was the means by which God was using to get the attention of the father and the family. And maybe the reason you are suffering right now is God is about to save your entire household. And you get the joy of suffering for the glory of God.
What I love about God is He never wastes anything. Smith Wigglesworth, the great apostle of faith, said this catchy phrase. He said, “Through great fights will come great faith.” I like that. Trough great fights have come great faith.
And I don’t know about you, but I have been in a spiritual dogfight before. Anybody been there before? And that is the only way God can mold you and shape you into the person He wants you to be. And so my challenge to you as we close is this. I want to challenge you to trust in the Lord. Don’t turn from God, turn to God. In fact, in the midst of a trial in your life, run to the Lord Jesus and take the little bit of faith you can muster and put all of it in the Lord Jesus Christ and watch Him strengthen you in the process. You see, the problem with many of us in the midst of trials is we want God to do a removing job and He is trying to do an improving job. We are asking for God to take away the very means by which He is molding us into His Son. And He is saying, now listen, hang tight. Hold on, I am almost finished. Just a little bit of pruning here, just a little more pruning there. Yeah. That’s it.
If you have ever studied vessels and ships, talked to sailors, you realize that the sailor of a boat will never realize the full value of the anchor until the boat has experienced the full force of the storm. I don’t know about you, but I am grateful that the anchor of Christ holds. Aren’t you grateful for that? That in the midst of a storm, we hang on to the rope and the anchor holds.
The anonymous poet said it best, and I will close with this. In his poem, “Out of Darkness,” he said, “Out of the dark forbidding soil comes the pure white lilies grow. Out of the black and murky clouds, the sins, the stainless snow. Out of the crawling earthbound worm, a butterfly is born. Out of the somber shrouded night, behold, a golden morn. Out of the pain of stress in life, the peace of God pours down. Out of the nails, the spear, the cross, redemption and a crown.”