The Bible is full of God’s promises to us, and each of us has a favourite verse we take as daily encouragement, especially in times of challenge. In particular, 2 Corinthians 1:20 remind us with this reassurance:
2 Corinthians 1:20New International Version (NIV)
20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
How do we consistently appropriate these promises of God? Recently, Pr Helen Kong shared an encouraging message regarding the faithfulness of our God.
Does God answer all our prayers? Definitely. He answers prayers in 3 ways: “Yes” because we deserved it or because it’s good for us; “No” because God has something better for us; and “Wait” because the timing is not right yet.
Pr Helen shared that if God answers our prayers, He is increasing our faith, if He delays, He is teaching and nurturing us by increasing our patience, and if He does not answer it’s because He knows that there is something better for us. In all of this, our response should be the attitude of faith and trust.
The main text she quoted was from Matthew 14:22-23 in which Jesus walks on water. This was an episode in the Disciples’ life that had seemed chaotic. They were in a boat in the middle of the night, surrounded by the winds of a storm and great waves, and the boat was in danger of capsizing.
The first principle: God’s promises are yes and amen regardless of circumstances. Under this principle, she brought out 2 sub-points. Firstly Pr Helen said that the problem is not as big as we think. Piling on top of their struggles with the storm, when Jesus was walking towards them on the water, the Disciples did not recognize Him at first. They thought they had seen a ghost. But that was not the case. The Disciples were magnifying their problems in their minds.
We often forget that leaders are also humans, Pr Helen expressed. We think that it’s because they are leaders, they somehow have an inbuilt strength to handle problems better. The truth is whether we are leaders or followers, we are all humans, and the difference lie in how we perceive the problems.
Secondly, the problem may be big but God is bigger. There are two types of storms in life. The first are the storms of correction such as the one Jonah faced. God had to send a storm because of his disobedience, and in order to calm the storm, the captain of the boat of which Jonah was on had to throw him overboard into the sea. Yet God sent a big fish to deliver him safely to where God wanted him to be. There will be times when God will send storms to divert us back into the right path. But no matter what happens, God still loves us.
The second are storms of perfection. James wrote in James 1:2-4 that when troubles come, there are still opportunities for great joy. These are the moments when we learn the lessons of patience, endurance, perseverance, love, as well as the fruits of the Spirit. Like clay being moulded by the Master’s hands, the process may be unpleasant but we’re being prepared for a greater role. God allows storms in our lives so that we can grow towards perfection to be like Jesus.
Though the pressures may be great, Pr Helen conveyed that God is never late with His timing. God always take action when instant action is necessary. In Matt 14:27, Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!
Learn to listen to God. Focus on God instead of the circumstances. Peter began to sink when he focused on the high waves and was afraid. We need to know who we are in Christ. We are children of God under His protection. Jesus reached out to Peter instantly, showing once again that God will answer us instantly if the situation calls for immediate action.
Jesus was giving Peter an opportunity to grow in his faith by experiencing what his faith had brought to him first-hand. However, when that faith faltered, Jesus did not take his time and let him drink a bit of the sea water due to his faithlessness. Jesus instantly reached out and pulled him out of the water and into the boat to a safe spot.
Therefore, we can believe God for miracles. How did Peter achieve his miracle of walking on the water? He heard the voice of Jesus inviting him to come over the waters. We need to be able to hear the voice of Christ in order to experience miracles. Are we sensitive to His voice? John 10:27 says that Christ’s sheep listens to His voice, and they follow His voice.
Learn to listen to God. Focus on God instead of the circumstances. We need to know who we are in Christ. We are children of God under His protection. Just as Jesus reached out to Peter, God answers instantly.
‘Let us call to Him in our times of need,’ Pr Helen enjoined. ‘God is not sadistic. If He allows us to go through a rough patch, it’s because He is preparing us for greater things in life. God is faithful in even the little things. He knows exactly what we need even before we ask Him.’
There is a powerful encouragement found even in the Book of Isaiah, written during a time of exile:
Isaiah 43: 2-3a
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
Even in times of exile, Isaiah had this faith. When God is in the boat, there is peace. Let us make sure God is in our boat. Sometimes the Lord calms the raging storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and He comes to calm His child.
Despite the storm in Matthew 14, two miracles took place. First, a mortal man walked on water. Secondly, and significantly, the storm did not die down gradually, but ceased abruptly and completely the moment Jesus climbed into the boat where the Disciples were.
In times of storms, the remarkable can happen and the safest place to be is under the covering where the presence of Christ is. Truly God’s promises are yes and amen regardless of circumstances and also due to this, we can believe God for miracles.
NOTE: This is a summary of a message shared by Pr Helen Kong of Glad Tidings Bandar Sri Damansara in a recent service at Aglow Assembly Subang. All pictures from the church obtained through the kind assistance of the church.
|Share The Good News|