A Very Present Help
It is a simple yet profound thing to understand that our God is a God of the NOW, he is as Psalm 46 verse 1 reminds us “a very present help in time of trouble”. Of course we can see him in our Past, and look forward to seeing Him work in our Future, but Religion has a habit of putting Gods power in the future with the idea that “some day I’ll fly away” or it puts it in the past, and sings “Give me that old time religion”. Yet it is more regularly true that you and I need a God that can invade our present situation and illumine it with Light. We need a God who can bring us out of the fiery furnace now, open the red sea now, raise Lazarus from the dead now, come to our help now, not tomorrow or next week or next year.
If, as the Psalmist says, God is a very “present help” in time of trouble, then in trouble, we should expect Him to be right there NOW with us in that troubled or testing time?
So my Sermon today, entitled “A very present Help” is about a God who want us to see him MORE in our Today’s than in our yesterdays or tomorrows! You will recall the portion of Scripture which we read earlier in the Service from John Chapter Four about the Woman who met Jesus at the Well of Sychar, a town of Samaria. Although not obvious at first, this is one of those really special Gospel records that shows us just how God can impact our “present situation”.
This woman did not fully realize that what was essentially, a brief encounter with Jesus, would impact her life for ever, and would have an impact through her to the lives of others.
Once she had come face to face with Jesus, …she leaves the well, heads for the city, and ministers a message “come see a man” which causes the city to stop and pay attention. The men of the city, many of which she may have had previous dealing, for remember she had a sordid past, five husbands and a present dodgy situation, …. yet here Jesus is not so much looking at what she is, as He is looking at what she can become!
God knows that once we have had an encounter with His Son, a real life changing encounter, then we can NEVER be the same, and God uses her to be an evangelist, simply because of her Jesus encounter. She reaches out to the men who were in her shady past, and the men of the city respond. God can use the things that used to be against you to launch you into a place where they can act for you, and for His Glory. He can use You too! Don’t ever write yourself off as being of no value. Your Parents may have told you that you were a mistake, your teachers may have told you that you were a failure, your circumstances may have told you that you were without hope in the world, but God tells you, I can see what you can be, as well as what you are! What you’ve been through, what you are facing, what you are dealing with, what you are fighting, can all become instrumental in Gods hands to carve or chisel out your future destiny. Jesus’s impact on her life, was clearly visible, the change noticeable in her, and prompted or moved the whole city to come out to see Jesus. If you will allow Him to encounter you on the road of life, He can change you too.
But did you notice the attitude and reaction of the disciples to all of this. They returned to the location and found Jesus talking to this woman, and they THOUGHT without saying anything… what’s He doing talking to THIS woman … does He not realize what she is? You may find that even if and when you give Jesus a chance to straighten your life out, and clean your life up, there will be others around, bystanders, onlookers, who won’t like it. Some will refuse to see your present, they will always only look back to your past. Many a young Christians joy has been tragically cut short, by the snide remarks and careless comments of those who expected no change. Christians are not perfect, they are just Saved! God has a work of grace to do in every heart to transform all of us into the likeness of His Son the Lord Jesus. Yet Jesus as soon as He meets her, begins to put this woman in perspective with his plan. He has a plan and she is part of that plan. There was a reason for him to go through Samaria, He said earlier “I must needs go through Samaria”. (John 4:4 ) You may know that at this time, the Jews had no dealing with the Samaritans, but Jesus came for the Gentile as well as the Jews.
So not only would Jesus go to an unwelcoming and idolatrous city, but he sits there at the well, (virtually all day) waiting for this woman. He knew that she would be a point of initiation; her being transformed by His grace and forgiveness, would be the catalyst to start a revolution! He saw her as a seed, … he would plant it in her heart, and rejoice at the obvious outcome. He did not wait to see the harvest or expect it immediately,
he rejoices over the seed, for if the seed is planted – there
will be a Harvest.
This is why I take great delight in preaching to you week by week, for I know that the seed of the word, sown in your hearts will bring forth fruit in time, there will be a harvest in your life, and for that – I truly thank God!
God is too big to be boxed in. He has a plan even for the people you don’t like, – for those who may have hurt you, or abused you, or wronged you, or taken from you, and even their hatred of you does not cancel Gods plan for your life or for theirs.
Jesus now addresses his disciples, (because he is a teacher, he uses her to teach a lesson) He says to them, “Say not ye there are yet four months and then the Harvest” You see the Problem with them, as with most of us, is that we regularly put our blessings and answers way ahead of us; not for today – maybe tomorrow. Do you see what I am saying? have you met people who refuse to live in the present and are always looking for tomorrow?
Those who say things like: I cant wait for next year, I cant wait till I get married, I cant wait till I move house! Stop counting down to something way ahead of you, what God wants to do for you does not necessarily have a date on it. You may be waiting on God, but God may be waiting on you. God says I will do it now, I will bless you now, I will answer you now, I will give you the victory now. The problem is that your perception puts His power way into the future. This reminds me of FOUR groups or categories into which most of us fall.
The first group, I am calling the Watchers
These are people who watch everything that goes on. Often their view is impaired and they don’t perceive things correctly. Like the disciples who were watching as spectators sitting around the well, they watch hoping that if they watch long enough things will go the way they want them to. They watch their marriage but don’t work on it, the watch their children but don’t discipline them, they watch their Church but only criticise the members. You will never become what God wants you to be standing on the side of the game watching as a cheer-leader or a spectator in the stands. You need to put on a jersey and get into the game yourself, and then God can open the windows of heaven for you. Do something for God right now. Help us Lord not to be watchers, especially as we so often watch from the outside, looking to the inside.
These Disciples still did not understand what they saw. The watchers opinion is based on their perception, they did not perceive this woman as being in a NOW moment. Do you perceive this time in your life as being a NOW moment? How do you perceive trouble? If you don’t perceive trouble as an opportunity, you will miss God, for God does not live in Good times but God lives in trouble. Psalm 46:1 says, The LORD is a very present help in Trouble . If you are not in a time of trouble you’ll not see God showing up; for trouble is an usher that shows us into the presence of God. God says, now that you can’t do anything yourself, fix it yourself, work it out yourself, can’t get free yourself, now is the time for me to show you who I am. So then, don’t be just a Watcher!
The next group are the Waiters.
They are the “wait and see” people, the cautious, they don’t get too committed, they are waiting, always getting ready for somewhere, but never going anywhere. They fall in love with waiting. They enjoy waiting because waiting shifts the responsibility from them to the Lord. “If the Lord wanted me to have this, then he will give it to me.” By waiting, they get to blame God. They add, “it’s not my fault God didn’t bring it to pass”. Sitting in the house waiting on a job, and then talking about waiting on God? Do they think work is going to come to the door and ring the bell? You’ve got to go out there for it.
That’s not waiting on the Lord, the Bible says “They that wait upon the Lord renew their strength, they mount up with wings as Eagles, they run and are not weary they walk and do not faint” Isaiah 40:31 Waiting on God does not mean, sitting back waiting, God does not dwell in time, but in eternity.
Waiting on God means waiting in the place of prayerful desire,
& powerful anticipation, knowing that God is already in your NOW, then you can get up, dress up, speak up, and stir up the results. Waiting is not passive, it is aggressive. We ought to be able to tell what your waiting on, by what you are working on! Everybody ought to have something that they are expecting God to do for them NOW.
Then there are the Wishers a bit like the waiters!
Only they have a positive attitude, they dream, they wish things were better, they wish their Children were saved, but don’t take them to Church, they wish they had more money but go on spending foolishly, they wish for a better life, yet they don’t do anything to make it better. They wish they had friends but are not friendly. They wish they had a husband or wife, but they don’t mingle or mix in places where they could be introduced to new people. They spend their time indoors watching TV, wishing and hoping for a change for the better. Let me say this: You will never get what God has for you simply by wishing? The world is full of wishful thinkers, wishing their marriage was better, wishing they had a better job, wishing they had bigger wages, wishing they drove a bigger car, or owned a bigger house or lived in a more affluent neighbourhood? They wish upon a star every day, but they never see the sunshine.
But there is one group of people that God is looking for to bless that is the fourth group, I’m calling them the WORKERS Are there any of you working on it today?
Those who can say: I may not have it but I’m working on it, I may not have mastered it, but I’m working on it, I may not be there yet, but I’m working on it, I may not be out of the woods, but I’m working on it, I may not feel Good but I’m working on it, I might not have the job or contact yet but I’m working on it,
I don’t see my vision a reality yet, but I’m working on it. I’m not just praying about it, I’m working on it.
As I said a moment ago; I ought to be able to tell what your waiting on, by what you are working on!
If you haven’t got it yet, but you are working on it, its only a matter of time before what you’re working on comes to pass in your life. You see FAITH takes over, Faith sees the end result.
Jesus could say “I am going to get some blessing some harvest here” I don’t have it yet, but I’m working on it. “Say not there are yet four months to harvest” there is a NOW moment to be seized, a window of opportunity, a chance for change, and it all focused on a woman who came to draw water at that well of Sychar.
Later he would send Philip, down to Samaria to preach the Gospel. (Acts 8:5) where one who called himself Simon the sorcerer had taken over Samaria, and many had become demon possessed. (Acts 8:9) The moment God starts working in your life and in the lives of those around you, you can be sure that the master sorcerer (the Devil) will always try to do something to block or hinder Gods working and stop you from getting what God has said you can have. When the Devil sent Simon the Sorcerer, God sent Philip, for where sin abounds grace does much more abound! (Rom 5:20) So Philip when down and preached until the whole city was turned around, yet Philip, can’t take the credit by himself, because he was the only one reaping a harvest which he didn’t sow, the woman at the well of Sychar sowed the seed. This shows me that God can use us all if he wants to, use His gifts, their talents, her voice and your availability. The Church may not want you, but God wants you. God is saying, before its over I’m going to let you reap something you didn’t sow, I am going to bring you into a
blessing that you are not going to understand where it came from, because I have been working on the blessing, long before you ever had the problems, – I factored in the problem, when I was planning the blessing. If you can just learn to praise me anyhow, even when you don’t see the way ahead, even when you can’t see tomorrow – then say thanks and praise God TODAY!
Do it now!
When Philip comes to Samaria, He doesn’t know that the woman at the well has laid the ground work for the blessing that he is stepping into now, for one plants, another waters, but God gives the increase. The one who sows rejoices with the one who reaps, because if you don’t do what you do, I cannot do what I do. If you don’t pray and support this or any other ministry, the minister cannot do what He does. Many will feed regularly at Gods table and walk away without making any payment, yet even in a restaurant they will pay for what they eat? Are you eating and being Spiritually fed and nourished somewhere and yet making no effort to pay for or support that source?
Don’t say it is yet four months until harvest, stop waiting, wishing and watching, but start working. Do something TODAY for Gods glory. For he who began a good work in you will finish it, – if God started it he will finish it. God has a beginning and an end to all his works. He is the Alpha and the Omega. I may not be healed yet but I’m working it, I may not be debt free yet but I’m working on it, I may not have the victory yet but I’m working on it – and I’m not afraid to call those things that are not as though they were; for if He was God in
its beginning – He will be God in its end!
Stop delaying the power of the NOW and pray “Lord, given what I’ve got to work with, and what my circumstances are now, how can I use this moment to glorify you? Since I am in the unemployment line, who can I witness to? How can I give you glory since I am in this Hospital? – show me someone I can bless. I know that this is not about me, for by your stripes I am healed, so if you are allowing me to go through this, then you have placed me here so that you can get the glory.”
What I am saying is – WORK ON IT
God didn’t wait till the 7th day of creation to rejoice in his work, at the end of the first day He said “I’m not finished – but its good”, the end of the 2nd,”I’m not finished – but its good” the third, fourth & fifth, …I’m not finished but its all good.
You will never get out of the depths of negative thinking until you learn how to rejoice in the small victories and in the little things that you have achieved today. Get into the habit of thanking God for today’s dinner, for a goods nights sleep, for a place to stay, for a roof over your head, for being able to take 2 steps today and maybe 3 tomorrow? Some may not understand all the trouble you’re going through and how you are still able to praise God, but every trouble is an opportunity to praise the present Saviour, who is “A very present help in time of trouble”.
NOW THIS FINAL WORD.
Sunday night, October 8, 1871, American Evangelist, the great D. L. Moody preached to the largest congregation that he had yet addressed in the city of Chicago. His text was: “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” from Matthew 27:22. At the close of the sermon, he said, “I wish you would take this text home and turn it over in your minds during the week, and next Sunday we will come to Calvary and the Cross again, and we will decide what to do with this Jesus of Nazareth.
Then Ira D. Sankey began to sing the hymn:
Today the Saviour calls; For refuge fly;
The storm of justice falls, And death is nigh.
But the hymn was never finished, for while Sankey was singing there was the rush and roar of fire engines on the street outside, and before morning Chicago lay in ashes.
(The great Fire of 1871)
Moody, to his dying day, was full of regret that he had told that congregation to come next Sunday and decide what to do with Jesus. “I have never since dared,” he said, “to give an audience a week to think of their salvation. If they were lost, they might rise up in judgment against me. I have never seen that congregation since.”
“I will never meet those people until I meet them in another world. But I want to tell you of one lesson that I learned that night, which I have never forgotten, and that is – when I preach, to press Christ upon the people there and then, and try to bring them to a decision on the spot. I would rather have my right hand cut off than to give an audience a week now to decide what to do with Jesus.”
My dear Friends, – don’t keep looking to the past, and don’t start looking to the future, Look at your NOW, and thank God that He is in it, and ask Him to show you how you can make the best use of TODAY!