I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. (Psalms 121:1-2)
What an uplifting verse! But the question arises; Do you, do I, truly look to the Lord in times of trouble? Or do we look to other resources. When there is financial stress, where do we look for the help we need? When there are relationship problems, where do we look. In times of sickness, where do we truly go first for help? Or do we treat him like technical support, and after we have tried all other resources then we call on God.
After reading this passage Russell told a story that is found in II Chronicles 16; about Asa king of Judah, that God wanted to bless, but he would not turn to God. Instead he took the gold and precious stones from the temple and bribed the ally of his enemy. This worked for that present situation but God sent his prophet to Asa and told him that because he did not rely on God he would have wars for the rest of his life and it was so. For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro through the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward him. (2 Chronicles 16:9) Asa was so angry that he put God’s prophet in prison. Later when his feet were seriously infected he still would not call on the Lord. And so he died.
In Luke 7 we see two stories that were extremely different. In Capernaum there was a Roman centurion that had a servant that was ill, and that servant was very dear to him. When he heard that Jesus was coming he sent some of the leaders of the synagogue to him requesting that he would come to heal the servant. The Jewish leaders said that the centurion was worthy because he loved the people of Israel and had built them a synagogue.
Russell pointed out the contrast between the two men. Asa was a king in Judah and should have logically called upon the Lord for help, but he refused. The centurion was part of the occupying army of Rome and considered the enemy of God’s people. The centurion turned to God’s people to request help from this Jewish prophet, Jesus. And he did not seek help for himself but for a servant.
Jesus said he would go and as he was going the centurion sent some of his friends to Jesus to say that he was not worthy that Jesus should even come into his house, and he did not feel worthy to even come to Jesus. But if Jesus would just say the word he knew his servant would be healed, because he was also a man under authority. He understood that authority only comes from submission to authority. And Jesus authority was derived from his submission to God and therefore he had authority to do this without being with the servant.
It says that Jesus marveled because of this man’s faith. Russell pointed out that there is only one other time that it says Jesus marveled and that was in Mark 6:6 where it says he marveled because of their unbelief. But in this case Jesus said, “I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel.” What a profound compliment for this man.
God is not impressed with anything we can do or accomplish. God is impressed when we have faith.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Russell said, “faith is a conclusion we come to based on examining the evidence before us. We follow that evidence toward that which we do not see.” Faith and action go together. We do not impress God by our actions but at the same time our faith that pleases God will result in action.
Russell told a story of faith that occurred in our own church family. Samantha and Matt were expecting a baby. After the doctors did some tests and then did some of them again they came in and told them that their baby would surely have problems if he could even be born alive. He would be disfigured and probably mentally handicapped. they advised that she have an abortion. Sam and Matt prayed about this for a while, but came to the conclusion that they would let God decide and she would carry this baby as long as God wanted. Rylan was born with many complications but he lived to go through many procedures and miracles. Finally there was a problem with his liver and he was sent to Portland. In Portland they were told that Rylan would have to have a very dangerous procedure and probably would not survive. It worked out that Russell and David Wise were in Portland and stopped by the hospital to visit and heard the news. They gathered around Matt and Sam and prayed that God would glorify Himself in baby Rylan in such a way that the doctors would have to acknowledge it. The next day the doctors informed them that somehow Rylan’s kidneys were functioning normally and the procedure would be unnecessary. Rylan is home in Medford and was at church yesterday. To the glory of God!
They believed in God and cried out to him for help, then went toward the help they sought. God can go where we cannot go and do what we cannot do. We need to rely on him in all of our need and trial to help us in ways no one else can.
Further on is the story of the widow whose son had died. (Luke 7:11-16) This is another amazing story of Jesus miracles, but the thing Russ pointed out here was that it says of Jesus, “He had compassion on her.” What a wonderful thing to think about. What a wonderful truth to realize, and apply in our daily life. God cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7
This last week has been difficult for the Vaughn family. Shannon was planning to go with the team to India this week, but her back went out and there seems no help for it. They prayed and called the elders but it is not any better, so she will not be going. This was a big disappointment, but they are believing that God cares for them and knows what is best.
And this is the challenge for the week. Seek to have a renewed and increased confidence in God’s love and care.
Rest in Philippians 4:4-8