Have you ever had the experience of praying for something in particular to happen, to later discover that God answered the prayer in a completely unexpected way, but that His answer was so much better?
A widow in the Old Testament days, her story is recorded in 2 Kings 4:1-7 experienced an immense need and sought help from a man of God and God answered her need in a very unusual, but miraculous way.
In a nutshell the woman’s husband was a prophet and suddenly died. Leaving her and their two sons unable to pay their debts. The creditor decided to take the two sons as slaves as payment of the debt. It was an awful situation for them all. Can you imagine being in that position?
Then Elisha comes into town and the widow begs for his help.
What happened next is a very curious and unusual outcome. The Lord used Elisha to meet the widows needs and in doing so, showed the power and character of God.
You see Elisha tells the widow to go and get all the jars she could get her hands on. She did, even seeking the help of her neighbours. She then was told to go home, close the door and begin pouring the small amount of oil that she had left into the borrowed jars.
Now I am sure you will agree this is a weird thing but it is also a risky thing for the widow. This oil is literally all she has left, and even then it was only a very small amount. However, she followed Elisha’s instructions and as she began to pour, the oil just kept coming, until all the jars she had gathered and borrowed were full!
The widow told Elisha what had happened, and he instructed her to sell the oil and pay off the debts.
At this time, oil was a precious item in international trade and used for many things, including perfumes, fuel and a healing balm.
Wow! This is an amazing picture of God’s caring, loving and powerful nature. He provided for this lady in a way that can only be described as a miracle, and one that had to come from God.
But, I just want to highlight that it came to happen that way because of a few key parts that needed to be played.
One, the widow needed to ask for help and two, the widow needed to follow instruction, being obedient, even in the unusual request.
You see the widow, having asked for help needed to be pliable and not fixed in her ideas or understanding of what the answer might be.
When we seek breakthrough and ask the Lord to meet needs, either for ourselves or others, we need to be open to His leading and direction for the response and perhaps not so prescriptive in our expectation that we miss the answer.
What if God calls you to do something that seems outside of the usual for you, will you obey?
In being pliable we do need to be very careful that we are only pliable to God and His ways. We need to be open and ready to hear from Him and Him alone.
Preparation Principle—For what are we preparing?
We have just celebrated Easter, the centrepiece of the Christian faith. Jesus being revealed as Saviour, was crucified, but as was prophesied Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day.
Just as Jesus fulfilled that promise, we know we can trust in the promises of His return. This my friend is what we need to be prepared for!
Remember Noah? God told Noah that He would destroy the earth by a flood, and He gave Noah instructions on how to be prepared so he and his family could survive. God told Noah what to do, but note He didn’t tell him when it would happen. What did Noah do? He prepared. Nobody else prepared and yes Noah was ridiculed, but look at the result. Noah believed and trusted God and acted accordingly. When the flood came, Noah was ready.
The result? Noah was saved. God did as He said, and He did it in His perfect timing.
Likewise, we as people of faith need to be prepared. We need to be prepared for Jesus coming again. So how do we do this?
Firstly we need to be living like we believe Jesus is coming again. We need to act like we profess. Let us be found working on our relationship, our knowledge and understanding of Jesus and His Word.
We also need to be watchful and not be led astray by the latest fad or theory. (Mark 13) We need to be discerning about what we hear and check against Scripture and seek the Lord for what is true.
We need to be prepared for the fact that we won’t have all the answers. We, like Noah, don’t know when Jesus will come again. We just need to be living in anticipation and expectantly.
In our waiting we should be living self controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for the hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11-13
We need to be encouraging one another (1 Thes 4&5) and affirming that the Lord will come again and to build each other up. May we not lose heart, become complacent or lose our focus on Jesus.
Let us live expectantly that today, just may be the day. Until Jesus does come, we are called to keep doing what He would have us do. That is tell others, to be a witness for Jesus, so that none miss out on God’s saving grace.
As we wait for Jesus’ return, we also wait for His perfect timing with our heart’s burdens, our break through items. Is God asking us to see these requests in light of His returning? Does that change what we are seeking break through for?
We have much to do. Let us be encouraged to be preparing for God to work in and through us as we wait.
Until He comes….
How did Jesus spend his time?
But what happened next?
Discover five things Jesus did after His resurrection—and what they mean for us today:
1. Jesus showed up.
Jesus spent 40 days on earth after His resurrection. During this time, He eased His followers’ doubts and gave them direction for the future.
Jesus didn’t shout His love from heaven. He showed His love on earth. Today He does the same, by bending low to hear our cries and heal our hearts.
2. Jesus modelled community.
Jesus was never too busy to stop and show He cared. As His followers, we’re called to intentionally serve people in our families, workplaces, and cities.
3. Jesus comforted the broken.
When Jesus came back, He wasn’t frustrated that His disciples hadn’t understood His plan. He met them in their uncertainty and fear instead.
Today, our Savior still has grace for our questions and confusion. He still draws near when our hearts are broken.
4. Jesus redeemed mistakes.
Even though Peter stumbled in his faith, it didn’t cancel his identity in Christ.
In the same way, we can trust that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
5. Jesus instructed and empowered.
Right before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told His followers to “go and make disciples of every nation.” With these instructions, we’re called to live every day with intentionality, looking for opportunities to share the Gospel.
It’s our job to show people what it means to know God and to make Him known.
Easter might be over, but what it means for us matters all year long.
Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we’re able to access God’s grace, presence, and reassurance like never before.
If you would like to read more https://blog.youversion.com/2022/04/what-happened-after-easter
For a lot of people Easter is about a holiday, time out with family and eating hot cross buns and chocolate eggs etc. Whilst there is nothing wrong with any of these things—after all who doesn’t love a good hot cross bun—as people of faith we know that the true meaning of Easter is about Jesus!
So here is our challenge….how are we going to share what we know to be true with those who don’t yet know or understand Jesus’ relevance to them?
As Christians, it’s our lifelong challenge isn’t it. We can come and worship our God and enjoy the company of our friends and church family and then go about our lives, until next Sunday. But when was the last time you actually spoke up and were open to the fact that you are a Christ follower?
We are not talking about standing on a soap box and yelling out to anyone that will hear, we are talking about relationship. Just as Jesus encourages relationship with us and seeks to communicate and impart His holy wisdom and way of life. We too need to be doing the same with those around us.
I can almost hear you thinking, well it was ok for Jesus, after all He is God and it’s easy for Him. However, surely the very sacrificial act of willingly going to the cross to endure the cruelty, abuse and horrific death as an innocent man shows Jesus knows about difficulty and hardship, yes?
Sometimes we simply need to be reminded that as challenging as some things may be, we have a God who is for us and will equip us to do His will. All we have to do is ask.
So this Easter, let us remember and honour Jesus, who died for us, in our place, so we could have abundant everlasting life with our God. Let us rejoice as we celebrate Jesus being resurrected from the dead on the third day, as we can know we too have received life through Jesus. And let us share why we celebrate Easter with those around us and be brave enough to ask the Lord to reveal to us and open up opportunities to speak about His love and the extreme lengths He went to, so we could have a living, loving relationship with Him. A relationship He wants with everyone. 2 Peter 3:9 The Message: ‘He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.’
Jesus will come again, and until then we have some work to do. Will you be ready to speak of the hope you have?
1 Peter 3:15 The Message: ‘Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. ….. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.’
Praise our Almighty God and give thanks for Jesus our Saviour and the amazing grace and love freely given.
Ever wondered why people in Jesus’ day chose to cut branches from trees to wave around when Jesus came into town?
Well this was by intention and has significant meaning. Firstly Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem was foretold...
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Zech. 9:9 .
His entry was one of triumph and so to mark this special occasion of joy and celebration it was only right that people use palm branches to signify their joy. (See Lev 23:40 & Neh 8:15).
Date palms are very tall trees that grow abundantly in Israel. Their large leaves spread out from the top of a single trunk. In these times palm branches also symbolised goodness, well being, grandeur, and victory.
When you next see such a date palm tree, and its majestic nature, may you be reminded of our one true King, Jesus the Christ, the Son of our living God.
Jesus rode in on a donkey and when you read the account of how that happened in Mark 11 you can see that even that detail was planned and divine. The donkey represented peace. Jesus is showing us that He is the Prince of Peace and came with peaceful intentions.
When the people waved their palm branches about, they also cheered and shouted ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in God’s name!’. This word Hosanna is an exclamation of adoration and means ‘oh save’. The people thought He was to be an earthly king, but God had a different way in mind of bringing true salvation.
Palm Sunday is a time of rejoicing and celebration and reminds us that Jesus Christ is King and His reign is far greater than anyone of us could possibly conceive. God’s ultimate plan was one of immense love, so much so that He was prepared to send His only Son to take on the immense price of sin. Jesus did for us, what we couldn’t do for ourselves, then or now, and that is save us. In doing this He is giving us freedom and the way into a beautiful and loving relationship with our Heavenly Father.
If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Saviour then you can definitely be rejoicing and celebrating this wonderful and significant time. If you are yet to make this decision, then may you be encouraged to seriously consider Jesus. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Because of Jesus we can ask anything of our God and know we will be heard.
If you would like to speak with someone further about what it means to give your life to Jesus, then we would love to chat with you.
You can let us know by filling out a “Care Card” or speaking with one of the Pastors or if you are unsure, ask the Marshal on the front desk to direct you.
Don’t wait, now is the time!
Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life, the one who believes in me will live, even though they die”
“Patience in Prayer”.
‘So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”’ 1 Sam 1: 20NIV
Do you sometimes struggle with prayer when it seems like nothing is happening or that no one is listening?
These are very real emotions that we all feel at one stage or another if not frequently. Yet there is still an invitation from God for us to remain faithful and to keep praying.
Sometimes we simply need to be reminded that God has made a commitment to us. Our reminders are often in the simple things that we overlook—like the sun rising every morning, the breath that we take for granted. He gives us life, He sustains and provides for us—by providing food, family, friends to help us flourish and by also meeting us when we stop to talk to Him in prayer.
Be encouraged to keep on keeping on. After all if we continue to be silent then how can we expect things to happen in prayer?
Ever gone fishing? It is one of those things that it is not for everyone, but just imagine you are sitting on the pier with your rod in the water. You drop your line into the water, that is too deep to see into but you know that there are fish there. Now the fish are elusive as most fishers will tell you, but they are there swimming about, even though it appears that nothing is happening. In fact there is a lot of nothing happening—until...Until that nibble pulls on your line and you reel in your catch. What joy and celebration you did it—you caught a fish!
Prayer is a little like that—we often can’t see what God is doing, but if we don’t ‘put our line in’ and connect with Him—we are definitely not going to achieve. It needs patience—our God is infinite and His timing is perfect. He knows what is for our best and sometimes we have a lesson or two to learn on the journey as we seek Him and learn from Him the what and how of prayer.
There are many wonderful examples of prayer in the Bible. In the Old Testament we learn about Hannah. Hannah was not able to fall pregnant and was taunted by other women. Hannah was distraught, she wept, she couldn’t eat and in her deep anguish she prayed. She let it all out before the Lord, weeping bitterly. She not only asked for a son, she made a vow to give him back to the Lord. As she poured out her heart to the Lord, praying so fervently the priest Eli thought she was drunk. But as she prayed she gained peace and was again able to eat and was no longer downcast. She waited on the Lord and He opened her womb and gave her a son.
She named him Samuel and Hannah kept her vow and gave him back to God and he was brought to the temple to serve and learn. Samuel grew in stature and in favour with the Lord. He was a high priest and judge of Israel and beloved prophet.
Hannah’s prayer is a beautiful example of bringing our hearts concerns and worries to our God. It also shows how God, true to His Word, heard and remembered her and her needs and met them.
Let us pray fervently like Hannah and keep on praying in anticipation and with patience as we wait on omnipotent God and Heavenly Father.
‘Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.’ Philippians 4:9 NIV
Throughout the Bible God shows us, often through His people, about prayer. The verse here from Paul written to Philippians is at the end of the letter, after many references and encouragement for us to pray.
Here are just a few:
“Prayers for you all, I always pray with joy”
“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight”
“through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ ….will turn out for my deliverance”
‘in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.
These are all practical examples of prayer. In these snippets of Scripture alone, we can see that the practice of prayer is for everyone
It is with joy
It is so love may abound
It is so we can know the Lord and gain deeper understanding
It is for provision
It is for rescue
It is for all times and circumstances
It is to be with thankfulness
We need to practice steadfastness in prayer
Colossians 4:2 “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving
We need to practice watchfulness in prayer
Mark 14:38 “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak”
We need to practice reliance in prayer.
Eph 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
It is easy to grow tired, lose our focus and we find ourselves becoming so quickly ungrateful. Yet it is so often in these times of our weakness and at our most vulnerable, it is then that we are most ready to be helped.
So let us continue the practice of looking to the Lord and with prayerful hearts give Him the thanks and praise He so richly deserves. With that as our starting point we soon are reminded we only have, because of God. He is our source of peace and comfort, our provider for all we need, and our strength to do His will, according to His purposes.
Prayer is powerful. However we know that it is only powerful, not simply because we pray, but because of whom we pray too.
This week we are looking at Hezekiah’s prayer as recorded in 2 Kings 19.
Hezekiah was a king and he was a dedicated man of prayer. In his time as King Judah faced impending invasion by the Assyrians who had invaded the land and besieged Jerusalem.
The general of the Assyrian army sent a letter full of threats to Hezekiah. So the King Hezekiah took that letter and read it, then went to the temple of God, laid it before Him and prayed, oh, how he prayed.
Here’s how Hezekiah prayed taken from ‘The Message’
“God, God of Israel, seated in majesty on the cherubim-throne.
You are the one and only God, sovereign over all kingdoms on earth, Maker of heaven, maker of earth. Open your ears, God, and listen, open your eyes and look. Look at this letter Sennacherib has sent, a brazen insult to the living God!
The facts are true, O God: The kings of Assyria
have laid waste countries and kingdoms. Huge bonfires they made of their gods, their no-gods hand-made from wood and stone. But now O God, our God, save us from raw Assyrian power;
Make all the kingdoms on earth know that you are God, the one and only God.”
There is a lot we can learn about this prayer and as Pastor Stephen encouraged us last Sunday, use Scripture to pray today.
We see here that the king’s first response was prayer and it was bold and public.
When crisis hits you, what is your first response?
Hezekiah’s prayer came from a desperate place, but he prayed to a sovereign God. In stating who God is, Hezekiah could also receive assurance of God and His immense Power.
When we are afraid, overwhelmed, desperate we can pray to our powerful God.
Hezekiah laid it all out before God. He told God all about it and the challenges He was facing. He was also indignant that the enemy dared to be so brazen as to try to insult God.
Have you heard people insult God through misinformation, lack of understanding and grief? You may even have been desperate enough to vent your anger towards God in this way.
We need to remind ourselves (and others) that God is bigger than that, He can cope with insults. He even allowed His Son Jesus to endure this.
God is almighty, He is Lord, He reigns, He is alive and powerful. He is all knowing, His is wisdom, He is listening.
Be encouraged today. Pray to our powerful God and watch and wait expectantly just as Hezekiah. For the times you are unsure just how to pray, just start with telling God all about it. Seek Him and His will and see Him work in mighty ways, because we as His children prayed to God our Heavenly Father.