Today I was driving to Athens to see my little brother who is recovering from a fractured hip, my Meemaw who is in a new nursing home, and my parents who are just dealing with a lot. I look on Facebook and see that there are a lot of other people who are dealing with a lot of junk. Some of our closest friends are dealing with a tremendous loss as of this morning...
As I was driving, I was listening to an older sermon by Perry Noble at Newspring Church talking about those moments in life where we have those conversations with God that go: "Really, God? I've been following You and THIS is what happens?! Give me a break!!!! I'm serving You, reading Your Word, and loving Your people but junk just keeps happening....!!!!???"
Little kids question things a lot. There's a really cute commercial that's on right now where a kid is outside asking a bunch of questions to a man and he gets done answering like the 51st question, and he says to the kid,"Why don't you go ask your dad?" haha it's so funny. Kids ask questions about things... they're discovering life.... In Matthew 18, Jesus talks about kids.
"And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."
(Matthew 18:2-6 ESV)
Those kids were probably interrupting Jesus a lot and asking Him a lot of questions... The adults were getting irritated, I'm sure. And that's why Jesus said what He said about them. He said some pretty frank things about children and their significance... about their humility. They don't claim to know everything. The are discovering. They're pressing into Him so that He can impart to them all the glorious rich treasures of the Kingdom. Jesus says that WE should come to Him that way. He wants us to ask questions.
It's ok to question.
In the sermon the main biblical focus to address those crisis of faith moments, was 1 Kings 17. Elijah is beginning his ministry, of following God, and he comes to a point where He questions God's provision. Ahab was king at the time and he had done a lot to make God not his biggest fan. A drought was coming to the area and Elijah was chosen to tell Ahab that is was coming.
Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” (1 Kings 17:1)
Elijah had obeyed God, even though it could have cost him his life. But our never changing God was looking out for Elijah and God gave Elijah instructions to protect Him.
2 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 3 “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. 4 Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.” 5 So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. (1Kings 17:2-6)
Elijah had it made at this point. I mean, it doesn't get any better than all-inclsive, knowing that enemies of God are going through a drought and you, who obeyed God, are getting rewarded for it. It's easy to say, "God, You are awesome! I praise You and thank You for ALL You've done for me! I am completely devoted to You! I love You, Lord!!" Soaking up the sun, fresh water, and birds bringing you a happy meal (minus the preservatives) non-stop.
The account continues in verse 7:
"But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land"
I'm sure there came a day where Elijah was basking in his contentment and comfort when he realized that the brook was getting a little low... and each day it got a little lower. I'm sure he prayed, "Alright God, I know You got this. I'm trusting You to come through. You promised that I would be sustained here... " But, the brook dried up.
A lot of people believe an all-inclusive resort, a gated-community lifestyle, is the life God promises when they become Christ-followers. A lot of people say, " The safest place to be is in the center of God's will." Well, I think it's safe to say that Jesus was in the center of God's will and He was persecuted and crucified. He is the greatest risk taker of all time... at the leading of God.
The center of God's will is the riskiest place to be BUT it's the most protected, most secure, the most exciting, and the most promised of greatness and fullness of life (And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28;The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John10:10 -pretty sure I include this verse in every blog haha) You have the omnipresent and the omnipotent God who has never changed, timeless, here before, during, and after all of the great governing rulers of the world, He and His Word have remained. His promises have remained to be proven true. The faithfulness of God (when He doesn't have to be because He's God) has remained true from Abraham to you, and beyond you. THAT God is Who is leading you, THAT God is Who is FOR YOU! (What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31) THAT God cares about you, and your hardships, your victories, your worries, and doubts. He is the God Who wants you to press into Him, to ask questions, so He can reveal to you the glorious riches of His Kingdom. He wants us to be joint heirs with Jesus, and we are, once we accept Him. He has adopted us into His Kingdom and it's His hearts' desire to tell us and show us our lineage and our future. Like a good parent, He wants to hold our hands through the hard times and rejoice with us through the good times. He wants to help us grow our character through our tough experiences.
Romans 5:3-4 NIV "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."
The word "blessing" means God's favor AND protection. If we have chosen to follow Him and give our lives back to the Creator, every experience should be counted not as loss,but as a blessing. We should thank Him in all circumstances for He cares for us in every way through every thing (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
"Sometimes we have to go through the valley of the shadow of death, to recognize that God is the Author of Life and draw near to Him...to be open to what He wants to speak into our souls." ~ Perry Noble
Sometimes, God brings us to these dried up points in our lives to position us to hear the message He wants to give us.
Elijah's story continues... In verse 8, AFTER THE BROOK HAD DRIED UP, it says, "Then the Lord said to Elijah, 9 “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”
The Lord spoke to Him and provided once more for Him, right when he needed it. God's glory was revealed in asounding ways to countless people and the world was changed through Elijah because Elijah chose to listen... This is just ONE example of people in the bible who questioned God but were used in BIG ways by God showing His provision through them.
If we didn't go through these times, we would become self-dependent and eventually, self-destructive. We need God. We need to thank God that He loves us enough to care about who we are becoming. He makes us worthy and righteous and takes the "least of these" to accomplish historical greatness.
I just want to encourage you to ask God questions. Allow Him to reveal His Kingdom TO you, to help reveal His Kingdom THROUGH you to others.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. ~~1 Corinthians 1:3-5
Passionate about Jesus and people, I've added this blog to communicate strategy and thoughts about Biblical Hospitality and The Church as a movement, rather than just people in a building once a week. It seems like everyone is blogging these days, (which is awesome!) and I know that there are always better and more insightful thoughts, but God is leading this so I'm just writing in obedience.