A few weeks ago I was asked to preach at our church yesterday. We have been working our way through the Gospel of John the last littel while, and I was given the John 4:43-54 to focus upon. Here I share a bit from my notes:
After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.
Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”
he man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”
Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.
This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.
John 4:43-54 NIV
It was probably not easy for this man to leave Jesus and go back home with only Jesus word that his son would be healed. I’m sure he wished that Jesus would have come to his home and touched his dying child but he was forced to simply believe in Jesus and take him at his word without doubt or hesitation. He was ready to return home and face ridicule and laughter because he trusted in Jesus' word.
I can only imagine the worry that must have remained in his mind. Have you ever received a promise from God yet couldn’t quite reason how He was going to make it come true?
Most of us can quote the famous scripture defining faith from Hebrews 11:1. The NIV version reads:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
I like the wording of the New Living Translation:
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Even so, while you continued on in your journey where there times that doubt began to settle in?
We are told that this man’s measure of faith was rewarded during the trip back to Capernaum. While he was on his way, his slaves met him, telling him that his son was alive and well. In response to his inquiry about when his son’s health improved, the slaves said, “Yesterday, in the seventh hour [about 1:00 PM] the fever left him.” That was the very time that Jesus had said to him, “Your son lives.”
Can you imagine the wonder that must have struck his heart, to think that his son began to recover as soon as Jesus spoke health over him? We’re told that therefore, he “believed” and so did his household.
I want to share a story about struggling to believe a promise I felt God had given to Rick and I.
It was October or November 2006 when we first received an email from Watoto Childcare. We were expecting mail filled with news and prayer requests, but this was a letter asking us to consider joining a Global Team going to Kampala, Uganda to build houses in November 2007.
We prayed and talked and talked and prayed and asked people we trusted for advice and counsel, and then we prayed some more. We sensed that we were to send in an application and if God wanted us to participate, the applications would be accepted.
It was hard to keep our mind on other things while we waited. In only a matter of weeks we received another mail that began “Welcome Global Team Members” !!
God had given us our answer. We were going to Uganda. We began talking, and praying, and writing letters seeking support, and praying, and speaking in churches doing presentations about our mission. We knew that when God calls you to missions He makes sure the funding is secured, even if you have to wait until the last moments…
We investigated flight arrangements. The travel agents quoted a price and said no deposit needed to be made until a month before we were travelling. What a wonderful escape hatch. If funds didn’t come in, we didn’t have to worry about paying for flights.
Then oil prices rose. The travel agent sent notice that if we wanted to freeze the rate we would have to pay within the next month. I remember saying to Rick “This is where the rubber meets the road. This is when we prove whether or not we really believe God will send us.”
We paid for the plane tickets.
We began charting our donations and mailing funds in to the Watoto Canadian office. We booked appointments for our required yellow fever, typhoid and other vaccinations.
Were we really going? It seemed hard to believe, and harder still when we were receiving no news from Watoto. We carried on, in faith, much the same as the nobleman returned home with just a promise.
When we finally received our next email, it included a detailed itinerary and asked for our arrival times. We found out later that they considered us firmly part of the team from the moment they sent the welcome letter, the very same time we knew that God had said “Go”
God had been true to His Word, but as we looked for signs in the natural world around us, we began to doubt.
So this morning I ask myself and I ask you:
Do we really trust in Jesus' word. Do we need signs and wonders before we can trust and believe?
Sharing today with Michelle and others who listen and act on what they hear...